“Dependence” Vs. “Dependency” – Difference Explained

Marcus Froland

Are you curious about the difference between dependence and dependency? Understanding this distinction can help you use the words correctly in your everyday conversations.

In this article, we’ll explore the etymology of both words, their definitions, common usages, and examples to help you understand the differences between dependence and dependency.

Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Dependence’ and ‘dependency’ are related words but carry different implications.
  • Dependence refers to emotional or psychological reliance on someone or something, while dependency typically refers to economic need.
  • Dependence is associated with emotional support, while dependency is associated with financial support.
  • Both terms can also refer to physical addiction, such as drug dependence or alcohol dependency.

Etymology of Dependence Vs. Dependency

The etymology of ‘dependence’ and ‘dependency’ differ slightly. The word ‘dependence’ dates back to the late 15th century, derived from the Latin word dependere which means ‘to hang down’. This is because it originally referred to a person or thing that depended on another for support.

Dependency, however, has its roots in the early 17th century and is an offshoot of dependency meaning ‘a state of being dependent.’ It refers to something that can be relied upon or needs assistance, particularly when something else is taken away.

Both words are related but carry different implications; ‘dependence’ implies reliance while ‘dependency’ implies need.

Definition of Dependence Vs. Dependency

You’re probably wondering what’s the difference between dependence and dependency?

Dependence is defined as an emotional or psychological reliance on someone or something. It can also refer to a state of needing someone or something for support.

On the other hand, dependency is typically used in the context of economic need, where it refers to a situation in which one person depends on another financially. Dependency can also refer to a situation where one thing relies on another for its existence, such as when a plant needs water to grow.

Usage of Dependence Vs. Dependency

When using these terms, dependence is usually associated with emotional or psychological reliance, while dependency often refers to financial need.

Dependence can refer to a person’s reliance on someone else for emotional support, such as in an intimate relationship. On the other hand, dependency means relying on another for financial support.

Additionally, dependence can also mean being dependent on something like a drug or alcohol. In this context, the meaning is similar to addiction.

In contrast, dependency more commonly refers to economic needs and material resources that one cannot provide for themselves.

Dependence and dependency are related but different concepts that should be used carefully when speaking or writing about people and their situations.

Examples of Dependence Vs. Dependency

You’ve likely heard of dependence and dependency, but do you know when to use each one?

Dependence is the state of relying on something or someone for support or aid.

Dependency refers to a particular thing that a person relies on.

Here are some examples:

  • Feeling dependent on your family for emotional support.
  • Being dependent on caffeine to get through the day.
  • Having a dependency on alcohol during times of stress.
  • Relying on medication as part of an addiction recovery plan.

Remember, dependence is used to describe how someone feels, while dependency refers to something they rely upon.

Both words are important in understanding relationships and behavior patterns.

Similarities Between Dependence and Dependency

Both dependence and dependency involve relying on something or someone for support. They share similarities in that they both imply a reliance on an outside source, often out of necessity.

Dependence is typically used when referring to an individual’s need for another person or thing. Dependency, on the other hand, is more commonly used to describe the relationship between two entities that are dependent upon each other.

For example, a parent may be dependent upon their child for financial support, while the child may be dependent upon the parent for emotional guidance.

Both terms can also refer to physical addiction, such as drug dependence or alcohol dependency.

Ultimately, understanding the nuanced differences between these terms can help one recognize and accurately define different types of relationships and dependencies in life.


You now understand the difference between ‘dependence’ and ‘dependency’.

Dependence is a state of relying on someone or something for support, while dependency refers to a thing that one is dependent upon.

Both terms describe the same concept: relying on someone or something else.

The important distinction lies in how each term is used; dependence is typically used as a noun, whereas dependency is more commonly used as an adjective.

With this knowledge, you can accurately use these words in your writing.