1

dependent

adjective de·pen·dent \ di-ˈpen-dənt \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

Definition of dependent

1 : hanging down
  • dependent lamps
2 a : determined or conditioned by another : contingent
  • plans that are dependent on the weather
b (1) : relying on another for support
  • dependent children
  • Their youngest daughter is still dependent on them.
(2) : affected with a drug dependence (see dependence 4)
  • alcohol dependent
c : subject to another's jurisdiction
  • a dependent territory
d grammar : subordinate 3a
  • dependent clauses
3 mathematics
a : not mathematically or statistically independent (see 1independent 1e)
  • a dependent set of vectors
  • dependent events
b : equivalent 6a
  • dependent equations

dependently

adverb

Examples of dependent in a Sentence

  1. He has been alcohol dependent for several years.

  2. the dependent willow branches swayed in the gentle breeze

Recent Examples of dependent from the Web

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

Is it ever correct to use dependant instead of dependent?

The simple answer to the question of when dependant should be preferred to dependent is—for the American writer, anyway—maybe never. But that's only the simple answer.

In British English, dependant tends to be used for the noun, as in "a person's spouse and dependants," while dependent is the usual choice for the adjective, as in "a person's spouse and dependent children." In American English, dependent typically does both jobs.

This wasn't always the case: dependant is the older of the pair. The word is derived from French dépendant, which was borrowed into English during the Middle Ages with two different meanings: a literal one, "hanging down" (dépendant is the present participle of the French verb dépendre, meaning "to hang down”) and an extended one, “determined or conditioned by another.”

For two centuries, the English adjective was frequently spelled with final -ant or -aunt. But in the 16th century, the spelling of the word began to shift toward the -ent ending, influenced by the Latin form of the word, dēpendēnt. It is this Latinized spelling of the adjective that is predominately found in American and British English today.

The French-derived dependant, however, still has life across the pond—as a noun. The noun form is newer; it dates to the early 16th century, around the time that the spelling of the word was shifting. Why the -ant spelling for the noun had more staying power in British English is unknown. As the Oxford English Dictionary notes, it was possibly influenced by other nouns, such as defendant and assistant.

In summary, dependant can be used for the noun in either British or American English, but dependent for either noun or adjective is a safe choice in American English.

Origin and Etymology of dependent

Middle English dependant, from Anglo-French, present participle of dependre — see depend


2

dependent

noun \ -dənt \
variants: or less commonly dependant

Definition of dependent

1 archaic : dependency
2 : one that is dependent; especially : a person who relies on another for support
  • an individual's spouse and dependent

Examples of dependent in a Sentence

  1. The insurance provides coverage for workers and their dependents.

  2. a person's spouse and dependents

  3. Do you have any dependents?

Recent Examples of dependent from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of dependent


Financial Definition of DEPENDENT

dependent

What It Is

A dependent relies on someone else for most or all of his or her financial support.

How It Works

In general, dependents are exemptions that reduce a taxpayer's taxable income. Taxpayers typically can take an exemption for each of his or her dependents. Spouses are not considered dependents from a tax perspective.

To claim someone as a dependent, the dependent must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident alien, a U.S. national resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. Adopted children have some special exceptions to this rule. The filer must provide Social Security numbers for all dependents.

People who are dependents on another person's tax return may still have to file their own tax returns. This depends on how much they earn, how old they are and other factors. Dependents cannot claim any personal exemptions on their tax returns.

Why It Matters

The presence and number of dependents affect a taxpayer's tax liabilities and eligibility for public assistance programs such as welfare and food stamps. As mentioned, dependents increase the number of exemptions a taxypayer receives.



DEPENDENT Defined for English Language Learners

dependent

Definition of dependent for English Language Learners

  • : decided or controlled by something else

  • : needing someone or something else for support, help, etc.

  • : addicted to alcohol or a drug


dependent

Definition of dependent for English Language Learners

  • : a person (such as a child) whose food, clothing, etc., you are responsible for providing


DEPENDENT Defined for Kids

1

dependent

adjective de·pen·dent \ di-ˈpen-dənt \

Definition of dependent for Students

1 : determined by something or someone else
  • Our plans are dependent on the weather.
2 : relying on someone else for support
3 : requiring or addicted to a drug or alcohol

2

dependent

noun

Definition of dependent for Students

: a person who depends upon another for support

Medical Dictionary

1

dependent

adjective de·pen·dent \ di-ˈpen-dənt \

medical Definition of dependent

1 : unable to exist, sustain oneself, or act appropriately or normally without the assistance or direction of another
2 : affected with a drug dependence
3 a : occurring under the influence of gravity
  • dependent drainage
b : affecting the lower part of the body and especially the legs
  • dependent edema

dependently

adverb

2

dependent

noun
variants: also dependant

medical Definition of dependent

: one that is dependent (as on drugs or a person)

Law Dictionary

1

dependent

adjective de·pen·dent

legal Definition of dependent

1 : determined or conditioned by another : contingent
2 a : relying on another for especially financial support
b : lacking the necessary means of support or protection and in need of aid from others (as a public agency)
  • have the child declared dependent and taken away from his or her parents
  • —L. H. Tribe
3 : subject to another's jurisdiction
  • the United States and its dependent territories

2

dependent

noun

legal Definition of dependent

: a person who is dependent; especially : a close relative or member of a taxpayer's household who receives over half of his or her support from the taxpayer and is a U.S. citizen, national, or resident, or a resident of a bordering country (as Mexico) — see also dependency exemption at exemption


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