de·​pen·​dence | \di-ˈpen-dən(t)s \
variants: or less commonly dependance

Definition of dependence 

1 : the quality or state of being dependent especially : the quality or state of being influenced or determined by or subject to another

3 : one that is relied on

4a : drug addiction developed a dependence on painkillers

b : habituation sense 2b

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of dependence in a Sentence

The company was hurt by its dependence on government loans. Our dependence upon foreign oil makes our economy vulnerable. a harmful dependence on foreign oil
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Analysts say improving conditions in Colombia’s rural areas is key to freeing poor farmers from dependence on coca production, but the road has been slow. Washington Post, "US report: Colombia coca production surges to record high," 26 June 2018 One of these counties was Barcelona, which became a strong political ward despite its feudal dependence on the Central European emperor. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Beyond the Headlines, Catalan Culture Has a Long History of Vibrancy and Staying Power," 25 June 2018 Given the dynamic between the two of them, and that Cole is so obviously still in love with Alison, her dependence on him is adding a lot of pressure to their relationship., "The Affair Season 4 Episode 2 Recap: Maybe A Round Of Coffee?," 25 June 2018 Petro proposes overhauling Colombia’s economic model to free it from dependence on oil exports and instead boost agricultural production through land reform. Christine Armario And Joshua Goodman,, "Conservative tops Colombia presidential vote but runoff needed," 28 May 2018 Muhammad bin Salman, the ambitious crown prince, aims to attract tens of billions in foreign investment to reduce Saudi’s dependence on oil revenues. The Economist, "A judge blames many parties in the Gulf’s biggest-ever corporate scandal," 9 June 2018 Beijing has cultivated trade with developing countries to reduce dependence on the U.S. and European markets. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "So Much Trade Losing," 6 July 2018 That’s partly why, of the approximately 76 percent of people who’ve tried tobacco, only 32 percent go on to develop a dependence. Korin Miller, SELF, "The FDA Wants to Limit the Amount of Nicotine in Cigarettes, but Would That Actually Lower Addiction Rates?," 27 Mar. 2018 As Nadella increasingly moves the company away from complete dependence on the Windows operating system to more in-house development on Linux, the company needs new ways to connect with the broader developer community. Bloomberg News,, "Microsoft buys popular coder hangout GitHub for $7.5 billion," 4 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dependence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dependence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dependence

Share dependence

Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dependence

The first known use of dependence was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dependence



English Language Learners Definition of dependence

: the state of needing something or someone else for support, help, etc.

: the state of being addicted to alcohol or a drug


de·​pen·​dence | \di-ˈpen-dəns \

Kids Definition of dependence

1 : a condition of being influenced and caused by something else

2 : a state of having to rely on someone or something dependence on charity

4 : addiction to drugs or alcohol


de·​pen·​dence | \di-ˈpen-dən(t)s \

Medical Definition of dependence 

1 : the quality or state of being dependent upon or unduly subject to the influence of another

2a : drug addiction

b : habituation sense 2b

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on dependence

What made you want to look up dependence? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an inexhaustible supply or amount

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A Thanksgiving Word Quiz

  • a-traditional-thanksgiving-dinner
  • November comes from a word for which of the following numbers?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!