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

dangling, hanging, pendent (or pendant), pendulous, suspended

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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

But this pleasure may be dependent, perversely, on disgust—or rather, on the aspirational struggle to steer one’s mind around disgust. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "How the Orange-Wine Fad Became an Irresistible Assault on Pleasure," 7 Sep. 2019 The future of high school sports in Indiana is dependent on you. Karissa Niehoff And Bobby Cox, Indianapolis Star, "Biggest challenge facing high school sports today — parents and adult fans," 5 Sep. 2019 Germany is, more than most European countries, highly dependent on exports and manufacturing, and has taken a huge hit from the trade wars. Washington Post, "Brexit escalation raises alarm for ailing European economy," 29 Aug. 2019 Childhood education in ancient Greece was highly dependent on one’s gender. Raquel López, National Geographic, "Did sons and daughters get the same education in ancient Greece?," 28 Aug. 2019 Most Caribbean nations are dependent on tourism and rely heavily on imports, trading extensively with the United States. Safiya Charles, The New Republic, "Trump’s Venezuela Policy Is Causing Turmoil in the Caribbean," 9 Aug. 2019 Along with several others, Portenoy cited a single-paragraph letter to the editor from the New England Journal of Medicine stating that less than 1% of opioid users would become physically dependent or addicted. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, "Gupta: Doctors must lead us out of our opioid abuse epidemic," 27 Aug. 2019 DoorDash pays its delivery workers a set fee per order that is dependent upon factors such as the destination, distance and desirability of an order. Rex Crum, The Mercury News, "DoorDash says new policy will ensure delivery staff gets ‘every dollar’ of tips," 23 Aug. 2019 Vancouver is planning some day and nighttime paving work for this week (weather dependent). oregonlive.com, "Portland metro Wednesday traffic: Paving work closes streets in Vancouver," 21 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Special Master Kenneth Feinberg determined that more than seven billion dollars was appropriate for the five thousand five hundred sixty people who applied as injured or dependents of the deceased. Tom Roston, Time, "The Untold Story of an Undocumented Immigrant Family Torn Apart by 9/11," 9 Sep. 2019 Harcombe House provides physical and mental health support to operational and retired members of the U.K.’s fire and rescue services and their dependents. Simon Perry, PEOPLE.com, "The Meaningful Reason Prince William Is Asking People to Start Texting More," 9 Sep. 2019 The commander of the Navy Region Mid-Atlantic issued an emergency evacuation order for military personnel and their dependents in five North Carolina counties. Meg Kinnard, The Denver Post, "Hurricane Dorian grows back to a Category 3 as it creeps up the east coast," 4 Sep. 2019 Or does the employer no longer have to comply with the ACA for any employees, retirees, or their dependents if the health plan is based in Texas? Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Trump is proposing to reduce the employer health insurance system to utter chaos," 23 Aug. 2019 This would allow parents to consent to have local law enforcement search their homes for any weapons owned by their dependents. Sarah Moon, CNN, "A California mayor wants to require all gun owners to have liability insurance," 12 Aug. 2019 In regards to health plans for all employees and their dependents, the city is set to contribute $1,800 a month, effective January 2020, and $1,850 a month, effective January 2021. David Hernandez, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Imperial Beach reaches agreement on new contract with fire union," 23 July 2019 Court records say the girls are not Washington's children or his dependents. Rachel Berry, Cincinnati.com, "Police: Photos of girls exposing themselves found on Colerain man's email," 11 July 2019 The coverage expansion and the low average premium increase are mostly being funded through restoration of the individual mandate that requires California residents to purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents. John Bacon, USA TODAY, "California becomes first state to provide health care coverage to some undocumented adults," 10 July 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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Statistics for dependent

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dependent

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

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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

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

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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Comments on dependent

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