dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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 sense 4) alcohol dependent
c grammar : subordinate sense 3a dependent clauses
d : subject to another's jurisdiction a dependent territory
2 mathematics
a : not mathematically or statistically independent (see independent entry 1 sense 1e) a dependent set of vectors dependent events
b : equivalent sense 6a dependent equations
3 : hanging down dependent lamps

dependent

noun
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \
variants: or less commonly dependant

Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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Other Words from dependent

Adjective

dependently adverb

Synonyms for dependent

Synonyms: Adjective

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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.

Examples of dependent in a Sentence

Adjective He has been alcohol dependent for several years. the dependent willow branches swayed in the gentle breeze Noun The insurance provides coverage for workers and their dependents. a person's spouse and dependents Do you have any dependents?
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This village, like the rest of the El Kelaa des Sraghna province, is economically dependent on olive farming. Ryley Graham, USA TODAY, "Moroccan families mourn drowning of 45 who used risky migration route to Spain," 7 Feb. 2020 The authors suggest that this indicates there's at least some residual heat sensitivity that isn't dependent upon this specific gene. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "We’ve figured out how mosquitos sense our warmth," 7 Feb. 2020 Also, Arizona has a $100 child tax credit for each dependent under 17 and $25 per dependent above that age. Russ Wiles, azcentral, "Changes and new features you need to know before you file your taxes," 7 Feb. 2020 Our decision to forgive isn’t dependent on what the other person does. al, "Why Christian author Lysa TerKeurst shares her private struggles," 5 Feb. 2020 And the smartphone industry, which is hugely dependent on China for both manufacturing and sales, is likely to take a big hit. Rishi Iyengar, CNN, "Qualcomm warns that 'uncertainty' about coronavirus could hit the smartphone industry," 5 Feb. 2020 The risk of infection is dependent on the exposure. Lauren Caruba, ExpressNews.com, "Coronavirus evacuees to be in San Antonio this week," 4 Feb. 2020 But universal health care, Green New Deal architect Rhiana Gunn-Wright argued, would allow far more people to participate in an energy transition by ensuring that their health care isn’t dependent on staying in their current job. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "How Medicare for All Could Help Fight Pandemics," 29 Jan. 2020 The vast majority — nearly 70 percent — were female spouses under the age of 40, while 70 percent of the dependent suicides were males. NBC News, "Military suicides reach record high among active duty members," 27 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The decision follows an evacuation flight out of Wuhan carrying about 200 State Department employees, dependents and U.S. citizens. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, "Coronavirus evacuees headed to San Antonio," 1 Feb. 2020 That’s significant for less-skilled workers who don’t earn enough or have too many dependents to pay income tax. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Tax Increases to Come," 26 Jan. 2020 The work is weather dependent and can’t be performed in cold temperatures or wet conditions. oregonlive, "Portland metro Friday traffic: Morrison Bridge closes Sunday for maintenance," 24 Jan. 2020 One military dependent visited their location while on his way home during a break from college and lost his wallet in the USO. Savannah Mehrtens, Houston Chronicle, "IAH USO provides military a home away from home," 3 Jan. 2020 Step three focuses on any dependents who can be claimed on a person’s tax return. NBC News, "Starting a new job or changing your withholdings? What you need to know about the new W-4 form.," 2 Jan. 2020 Weather dependent, a bonfire by the lake will take place. courant.com, "Community News For The Putnam-Killingly Edition," 9 Dec. 2019 With the state’s 5 percent income tax rate, the proposal provides up to $50 of additional benefit per dependent, no matter how high your income. BostonGlobe.com, "Should the state double the exemption taxpayers can claim for dependents?," 2 Nov. 2019 Cold Beers & Cheeseburgers Veterans, active duty military, dependents and first responders get 10% off their bill. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "These metro Phoenix restaurants offer discounts for veterans and military personnel," 25 Oct. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of dependent

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

1523, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for dependent

Adjective and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for dependent

Time Traveler

The first known use of dependent was in the 14th century

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Statistics for dependent

Last Updated

15 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dependent.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dependent?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=d&file=depend07. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for dependent

dependent

noun

Financial Definition of 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.

Source: Investing Answers

dependent

adjective
How to pronounce dependent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: decided or controlled by something else
: needing someone or something else for support, help, etc.
: addicted to alcohol or a drug

dependent

noun
How to pronounce dependent (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

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

dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Kids Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

dependent

noun

Kids Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: a person who depends upon another for support

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dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent | \ di-ˈpen-dənt How to pronounce dependent (audio) \

Medical Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Other Words from dependent

dependently adverb

dependent

noun
variants: also dependant

Medical Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

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

dependent

adjective
de·​pen·​dent

Legal Definition of dependent

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : determined or conditioned by another : contingent
2a : 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

dependent

noun

Legal Definition of dependent (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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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