de·​pen·​den·​cy | \ di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē How to pronounce dependency (audio) \
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

The men are heavy drinkers, while Mary, newly released from a sanitarium, is fighting a dependency on morphine. New York Times, "Review: Jeremy Irons and Lesley Manville Lead a Hard-Run ‘Long Day’s Journey’," 13 May 2018 The Seattle Times continues its focus on the root causes of homelessness, including behavioral health care, drug dependency, criminal justice and economic instability. Allegra Abramo, The Seattle Times, "Youth often become homeless just after leaving juvenile detention. Can Washington state really stop it?," 29 Mar. 2019 If, say, a developer wants to embed Google Maps or use Google's cloud push messaging, that means building a dependency on Play Services into their app. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "After $5 billion EU antitrust fine, Google will start charging for Android apps," 17 Oct. 2018 One of the plaintiffs in the suit said the firm had tried to force her to change a diagnosis that a patient suffered from substance abuse and drug dependency. Paul Brinkmann,, "Chain of mental health clinics declares bankruptcy," 19 Apr. 2018 His name is a reminder of Jersey’s singular status, as a British crown dependency just off the French coast. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Charlize Theron Explores Motherhood’s Discontents in “Tully”," 4 May 2018 Successive governments have failed to wean the country off an oil dependency that leaves it vulnerable to fluctuating global prices and doesn’t generate significant employment. Sune Engel Rasmussen, WSJ, "As Iran Marks Its Anniversary, Economic Woes Cloud a Pitch for Unity," 10 Feb. 2019 Experts, world leaders and the IMF worry, however, that the Belt/Road looks a lot like political tutelage with the intended goal of generating economic dependency — these projects often involve significant debts owed to China. Karen J. Alter, Washington Post, "Trump’s tariffs aren’t the biggest trade problem. Will China step up to protect the WTO?," 18 June 2018 The social-democratic Siumut party of outgoing prime minister Kim Kielsen won the most votes in parliamentary elections held in Greenland, a scarcely populated dependency of Denmark rich in untapped natural resources. Nick Rigillo,, "Social Democrats Edge Socialist Rivals in Greenland Vote," 25 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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Statistics for dependency

Last Updated

8 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dependency

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 How to pronounce dependency (audio) \
plural dependencies

Medical Definition of dependency

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Comments on dependency

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


one that collects or salvages junk

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