de·​pen·​dence | \ di-ˈpen-dən(t)s How to pronounce dependence (audio) \
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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web Yet, that fight can be taken as a favorable precedent for Five Eyes, given that Australian leaders ultimately refused to allow economic dependence on China to paralyze their political choices. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Top British lawmaker fears China has split New Zealand from Five Eyes allies," 26 Apr. 2021 Substance abuse therapy and monthly injections of Vivitrol for alcohol dependence were helping., "Edith Turner heads down a street in Pontiac in the early morning hours on Friday, October 18, 2019, to the bus stop on Telegraph Road...," 18 Apr. 2021 Research consistently demonstrates that individuals who suffer from trauma or PTSD are more likely to have problems with substance dependence. William A. Haseltine, Forbes, "Covid-19 Increases Stress And Traumatic Stress Disorders Including Drug Abuse And Fatal Overdoses," 12 Apr. 2021 But a similar argument could be made for the West's economic dependence on China. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, "If history is a guide, China’s boycott of H&M, Nike, and other Western brands may blow over," 30 Mar. 2021 The same dependence explains how Amazon failed to provide adequate stocks of masks and gloves to its warehouse workers in the United States in the first months of the pandemic. New York Times, "In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization," 26 Mar. 2021 The Food and Drug Administration approved Vivitrol’s use for alcohol dependence in 2006. Paula Dobbyn, Anchorage Daily News, "Injectable medication shows promise for Anchorage’s homeless alcoholics," 4 Mar. 2021 Many Americans have traded their independence of thought for dependence on tribal propaganda. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | G. RUSSELL HOLT: Path to civility," 14 Feb. 2021 The result often is an exacerbation of traditional town-and-gown tensions as college towns have tried to balance economic dependence on universities with visceral public health fears. Sarah Watson, Star Tribune, "A new front in America's pandemic: College towns," 7 Sep. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of dependence

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for dependence

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dependence

Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dependence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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 How to pronounce dependence (audio) \

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 How to pronounce dependence (audio) \

Medical Definition of dependence

1 : the quality or state of being dependent upon or unduly subject to the influence of another
2a : drug addiction

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Comments on dependence

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