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See also: dépend and depënd





From Middle English dependen, from Old French dependre and Latin dependeō, from Latin dē- + pendeō (to hang). In this sense, displaced native Old English hangian (to hang or depend).


  • IPA(key): /dɪˈpɛnd/, /də-/, /di-/
  • Audio (US):(file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛnd



depend (third-person singular simple present depends, present participle depending, simple past and past participle depended)

  1. (intransitive, followed by on or upon, formerly also by of) To be contingent or conditioned; to have something as a necessary condition; to hinge on.
    We would like to go skiing, but it depends on the amount of snow.
    • 1948, John Huston, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, spoken by Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart):
      Gold don't carry any curse with it. It all depends on whether or not the guy who finds it is the right guy. The way I see it, gold can be as much of a blessing as a curse
  2. (intransitive, usually followed by on or upon) To trust; to have confidence; to rely.
    we should all be able to depend on the word or assurance of our friends
    we depend on the mailman to come at the usual time.
    • 1904, Edith Nesbit, The New Treasure Seekers, Chapter 1:
      "It's another wedding present, you may depend," Dicky said—"a beastly surprise, I shouldn't wonder."
  3. (now literary) To hang down; to be sustained by being fastened or attached to something above.
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick:
      The long rows of teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving icicles depended from the bows.
    • 1907, Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent:
      Bronze chandeliers with many globes depended from the low, slightly vaulted ceiling, and the fresco paintings ran flat and dull all round the walls without windows, representing scenes of the chase and of outdoor revelry in medieval costumes.
    • 1912, Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World [], London, New York, N.Y.: Hodder and Stoughton, →OCLC:
      He had prepared a sort of collar of leather with many straps depending from it.
    • 1982, Paul Fussell, My War:
      Besides, if you worked up to be a cadet officer, you got to wear a Sam Browne belt, from which depended a nifty saber.
  4. (archaic) To be pending; to be undetermined or undecided.
    a cause depending in court
    • 1703, The History Of King William The Third. In III Parts:
      While the Bishops Affair was depending, the King sent orders [...]
    • 1836, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Court of King's Bench:
      In perjury, the capias, warrant, and affidavit, are good evidence that a cause was depending.
    • 1837, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, page 544:
      "A Letter of the King sent to his Proctors at Rome, concerning a Case of his in the said Court depending."
  5. (transitive) To cause to be contingent or dependent on; to set as a necessity.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 65:
      There he wilted, obviously depending the disposal of his person and his plight on Bradly, and expecting that to be done at once, too.

Derived terms