“Dependence” vs. “Dependency” – Difference Explained

“Dependence” and “dependency” are variations of the word “dependent”. The English language is full of tricky variations which may be confusing. This article will go over the differences between “dependence” and “dependency” and any nuances there may be.

What Is The Difference Between “Dependence” And “Dependency”?

There is little to no difference between “dependence” and “dependency”, as both words stem from the same word, “dependent”. To be dependent is to have to rely on someone or something in order to continue to exist or to operate. Both “dependence” and “dependency” share this definition.

dependence vs dependency

“Dependence” and “dependency” are both forms of the word “dependent”, which is an adverb. “Dependence” and “dependency”, however, are changed to nouns with the addition of their suffixes, which are the endings attached to the word.

What Does “Dependence” Mean?

“Dependence” is a noun of “dependent”, changing its usage from a descriptor to an item detailing the need for something to continue functioning. A “dependence” only requires someone or something to need something to continue on, whether the people or machines can continue functioning without what they are dependent upon.

“Dependence”, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, means “the situation in which you need something or someone all the time, especially in order to continue existing or operating”. Many things can have a “dependence” on something, such as people, countries, and even machines.

Here are a few examples of how the word “dependence” can be used correctly in a variety of ways.

  • It is very easy for many to develop a dependence on strong medications.
  • Despite their mother’s growing dependence on them, the pair remained close.
  • She had a reliable dependence on her fiance for her transportation needs.
  • Their dependence on one another created an unhealthy relationship.
  • She had such a strong dependence on her routine that she was crippled without it.
  • The dependence the neighborhood had upon one another created a tight-knit community.
  • Many people develop a dependence on fast food for their meals.
  • Through therapy and work, many people manage to rid themselves of a dependence on a harmful habit.
  • Their necessary dependence on one another created a mutual trust between them.

What Does “Dependency” Mean?

“Dependency” is a noun of “dependent”, changing it from a descriptive aspect to an item or an idea. Like “dependent” and “dependence”, “dependency” can be applied to something that has a dependency on something they feel they cannot function without or need in order to continue functioning.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines “dependency” as “a situation in which you need something or someone and are unable to continue normally without them”.

Some examples have been provided for you to reference on how “dependency” can be used correctly in various situations.

  • Drying your clothing on a line outside may reduce your dependency on monopolized utility corporations.
  • Some medications may create a vicious cycle of dependency through rebound headaches.
  • Developing an emotional dependency on someone may make them feel smothered.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous has helped to greatly reduce people’s dependency on alcohol.
  • Someone who has a dependency on their routines and schedules will find comfort in their habits.
  • The royal army had a dependency on their soldiers to keep them safe from the peasants outside the castle.
  • He struggled with dependency issues now that he was living on his own for the first time.
  • After years of struggling, she finally overcame her nicotine dependency and quit smoking.
  • After years of struggling, he had still not managed to overcome his dependency on fast food.

What Are Examples Of “Dependence”?

“Dependence” can come in many forms, and as such, being able to identify dependence can be a helpful tool in your day-to-day life. Someone having a dependence on something can be both positive or negative, depending on the situation.

Here are some examples of different things which can show a dependence in one’s life.

  • Needing multiple cups of coffee to function during the day shows a dependence on caffeine.
  • Someone may have a dependence on their job as a reliable source of income to continue paying their mortgage.
  • A plant has a dependence on the sun to continue to keep it alive so it may photosynthesize.
  • Most pets have a dependence on their owner to make sure they are well taken care of.

What Are Examples Of “Dependency”?

Having a “dependency” on someone or something is not always a bad thing, but if left unchecked, could lead to self-destructive behavior. On the other hand, having a dependency on someone or something could lead to an improvement in one’s life.

Below are a few examples of different forms of dependency that may be seen in various areas.

  • A negative dependency on heroin can be very harmful to the user.
  • A country that has a production dependency on another country shows how vast dependency can reach.
  • Some people have a dependency on others to make sure they can get to the places they need to.
  • Those who are diabetic have a dependency on artificial insulin to keep them alive and healthy.

Does “Addiction” Mean The Same As “Dependence” And “Dependency”?

“Addiction” does not necessarily have the same meaning as “dependence” or “dependency”, but is a subset of being dependent upon something. “Addiction” has a focus on a negative meaning which is usually harmful in nature to the one with the addiction.

“Addiction” is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “an inability to stop doing or using something, especially something harmful”. While “addiction” is a “dependence” and a “dependency”, it focuses on the negative aspect of being dependent upon something or someone in a way that is harmful or self-destructive.

Is “Dependence” Or “Dependency” Used The Most?

“Dependence”, according to this Google Ngram Viewer showing the usage comparison between the two words, is the most used of the two. “Dependency” is infrequently used, though it has had a very slow and steady increase since the beginning of the 1920s.

dependence vs dependency english usage

“Dependence” saw a dramatic increase in usage around the beginning of the 1950s as alcoholism became an apparent issue, which lead to prohibition. It continued to rise in the 1980s as illegal drug use such, as cocaine and crack cocaine, also became more prominent.

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