de·​pen·​den·​cy | \-dən(t)-sē \
plural dependencies

Definition of dependency 

2 : something that is dependent on something else especially : a territorial unit under the jurisdiction of a nation but not formally annexed by it

3 : a building (such as a stable) that is an adjunct to a main dwelling

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Examples of dependency in a Sentence

the country's dependency on foreign oil a dependency on foreign oil

Recent Examples on the Web

No one before him has analyzed the administration of the American dependencies on such a scale and with such exactitude. Wm. Roger Louis, WSJ, "‘American Empire’ Review: Signing Up for the Imperial Club," 23 Mar. 2018 The oil market’s increased dependency on crude exports from the United States poses its own risks, because Gulf Coast ports can be shut down by hurricanes in the summer and the fall. Stanley Reed, New York Times, "Saudi Arabia Promised More Oil. So Why Are Prices Rising?," 4 July 2018 In April, Collins also killed a plan to partner with pharmaceutical companies on a $400 million study of opioid dependency, after an outside panel warned of potential conflicts. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "U.S. lawmakers want NIH and CDC foundations to say more about donors," 29 June 2018 Cut your kid's diaper dependency, without the mess: Like many parents, Hammond was was sick of waking up in puddles of his kid's pee. Taylor Seely, USA TODAY, "Peejamas are here to save the day, parents! (Or the night, technically)," 22 May 2018 On a recent Wednesday, doctors were seeing patients with concerns about opioid dependency, foot pain, sore throat, bipolar disorder, asthma and diabetes. Christine Willmsen, The Seattle Times, "Black Panther Party’s legacy to help sick, poor lives on at Seattle health clinic," 25 Apr. 2018 This has been a tournament in which individuals who play as individuals, whether through inclination or thorough the dependency of teammates, have failed. Jonathan Wilson,, "Luka Modric's Croatia Success Story Comes With Complications," 13 July 2018 Typically patients are treated through prescription pills, though those can only be used for a short amount of time and can cause dependency. Lindsay Carlton, Fox News, "Acupuncture gives relief to cancer patients suffering insomnia," 8 June 2018 One reason for Asia’s relative stinginess may be a lingering belief that safety nets erode people’s work ethic and foster dependency. The Economist, "How developing countries weave social safety nets," 12 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dependency.' 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 dependency

1594, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

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The first known use of dependency was in 1594

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More Definitions for dependency



English Language Learners Definition of dependency

: the quality of being dependent

: an area that is controlled by a country but that is not formally a part of it


de·​pen·​den·​cy | \-dən-sē \
plural dependencies

Medical Definition of dependency 

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