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Dependency vs. Dependence: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 11, 2023
"Dependency" often refers to a state of relying on or needing something, while "dependence" is the condition of being dependent on something or someone.

Key Differences

"Dependency" often implies a relationship in which one entity relies on another for support or resources, like a country's dependency on imported oil. While, "dependence" refers to the state or condition of being reliant on or influenced by something or someone, like a person's dependence on medication.
In political or social contexts, a dependency may denote a territory that relies on a governing country. However, dependence, in a psychological context, can refer to an individual's reliance on a substance or behavior.
"Dependency" can be used to describe a situation where there is a lack of independence, such as a child's dependency on their parents. Whereas, "dependence" also refers to a state of needing something for functioning, like a plant's dependence on sunlight.
In software engineering, dependency refers to a situation where a program relies on another component. Dependence in a broader sense can describe a scenario where continuity or existence is contingent on a specific condition or entity.
Dependency might also imply a subordinate or auxiliary status, as in a colony's dependency on its ruling nation. Dependence is often used to describe a general state of reliance, such as economic dependence on a particular industry.

Comparison Chart


A relationship where one entity relies on another
The condition of being dependent

Usage Context

Often used in political, social, or technical contexts
Broadly used in psychological, physical, and general contexts


Can imply a subordinate or auxiliary relationship
Indicates a state or condition of reliance


Territories dependent on a governing country, software dependencies
Substance dependence, economic dependence

Dependency/Dependence on Entities

Reliance on specific entities or systems
General state of requiring support or resources

Dependency and Dependence Definitions


A subordinate or auxiliary relationship.
The colony was once a dependency of a European empire.


Reliance on a substance, activity, or habit.
Her dependence on caffeine to start the day was well-known.


In software, a component required for another component to function.
The new app has several dependencies that need to be resolved.


The state of requiring something for support, sustenance, or survival.
His dependence on glasses for reading was increasing.


A condition of being influenced or determined by something.
His emotional dependency on approval was hindering his progress.


Being contingent on or determined by something else.
The success of the project had a high dependence on funding.


A state of relying on or needing someone or something for aid.
The island's economy has a strong dependency on tourism.


The condition of being influenced by or subject to something.
The region's economic dependence on agriculture is significant.


A territory subject to a sovereign state.
Puerto Rico is a dependency of the United States.


A psychological or emotional condition of needing support or reassurance.
His emotional dependence on his family was very strong.




The state of being determined, influenced, or controlled by something else
The economy's dependence on oil.


Something dependent or subordinate.


The state of being dependent on another for financial support.


A minor territory under the jurisdiction of a government.


The condition of being dependent on a substance such as a drug or on a given behavior
Alcohol dependence.
Gambling dependence.


Can a country have a dependency?

Yes, a country can have dependencies in the form of territories that rely on it.

What is substance dependence?

Substance dependence is a condition where an individual relies on a drug or substance.

How does dependency manifest in software?

In software, a dependency is a component that a program needs to function properly.

What does 'dependency' mean?

'Dependency' refers to a state of being reliant on something or someone, often in a subordinate relationship.

How is 'dependence' defined?

'Dependence' is the condition of needing something or someone for support or functioning.

What are examples of political dependencies?

Political dependencies include territories like Guam or the Virgin Islands relying on larger nations.

What is codependency?

Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship pattern where one person enables another's poor behavior.

How can dependence be treated in addiction?

Dependence in addiction can be treated with therapy, medication, and support groups.

Can dependence be emotional?

Yes, emotional dependence is when someone relies heavily on another's emotional support.

Can dependencies exist in relationships?

Yes, dependencies can exist in relationships where one partner relies significantly on the other.

Is drug dependence the same as addiction?

Drug dependence is often a component of addiction, but they are not exactly the same.

Is dependence always negative?

Dependence is not always negative; it can be a normal part of healthy relationships or systems.

Are dependencies common in global trade?

Dependencies are common in global trade, with countries relying on others for certain goods.

How is emotional dependency addressed in therapy?

Emotional dependency is addressed in therapy through building self-esteem and independence.

How does economic dependency affect countries?

Economic dependency can make a country vulnerable to external market changes.

Can dependence lead to vulnerabilities?

Dependence can lead to vulnerabilities, especially if the support system fails.

What role does dependency play in colonization?

In colonization, dependencies often refer to territories controlled by a colonizing nation.

Can dependence be healthy in certain contexts?

In some contexts, like ecosystems, dependence can be a healthy part of interdependence.

How does social media create dependency?

Social media creates dependency through constant connectivity and reliance on digital interaction.

What's the impact of technological dependency?

Technological dependency can lead to over-reliance on digital tools and systems.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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