Definition of depend in US English:



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  • 1depend on/uponBe controlled or determined by.

    ‘differences in earnings depended on a wide variety of factors’
    • ‘The prognosis primarily depends on the extent of the disease at presentation and the age of the patient.’
    • ‘This figure varies between blood banks, depending again on the testing methodologies and tests used in screening.’
    • ‘Businesses depend to a significant degree on banking and access to banking services.’
    • ‘The properties of today's composite materials depend largely on the size and type of ceramic filler particle.’
    • ‘The things on which our lives depend are ones that we cannot understand or control.’
    • ‘Whether it will indeed lead to wider disaster depends very much on how the rest of us respond now.’
    • ‘Whether bank regulators are accountable depends partly also on the general law.’
    • ‘Omnivorous species were classified as relying on animal or vegetable food depending on the most important contribution to the diet.’
    • ‘Indeed, achieving industrial diversification of African economies depends in large measure on the expansion of trade opportunities.’
    • ‘If we rely on such counsel, if enhancing the national welfare depends on such, we are in for a rough time.’
    • ‘The rise of self-organization in human systems depends to a large degree on initiative.’
    • ‘The capacity of North America to pay for its imports on such a scale depended to a considerable degree on its earnings from supplying the plantations of the West Indies.’
    • ‘Finally, relations between lords and tenants were rarely controlled by written documents and depended rather on the memory of those involved.’
    • ‘Control of malaria and anaemia depends largely on passive case detection and appropriate treatment.’
    • ‘Corn borer larval survival depends on several factors.’
    • ‘The success of a new airport would depend crucially on its ability to attract airlines.’
    • ‘Differences in corrosion performance, however, depend heavily on the severity of the corrosion environment.’
    • ‘The investment return depends solely on the difference between what you paid and what someone else pays you when you sell.’
    • ‘It is very evident that the rigour with which merger control is enforced depends in part on the agenda of the Minister.’
    • ‘Their survival depended on the continued support of powerful group leaders.’
    be contingent on, be conditional on, be dependent on, turn on, pivot on, hinge on, hang on, rest on, be based on, rely on
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  • 2depend on/uponRely on.

    ‘the kind of person you could depend on’
    • ‘Gillard had few friends, looked up to and trusted Preston, depended on him, drank to excess, itinerant, living in shelters and hostels.’
    • ‘Those who are ground down by economic circumstances ought also to be able to depend on the help of others.’
    • ‘And that was partially why he'd trusted her so much, believed in and depended on her so much.’
    • ‘He was very capable-but this little girl, whom everyone depended upon - depended on him.’
    • ‘Everyone knows the difference between a friend you can rely on and a friend you depend on.’
    • ‘As the months sped by, Jenny grew to rely and depend on Sammy more than ever before.’
    • ‘We should be able to depend on each other to help us through everything, so it's very important.’
    • ‘It's about a set of strangers that meet in a post-apocalyptic future and learn to trust and depend on each other.’
    • ‘Your child wants you to stay in control while they are out of control, so they can rely and depend on you.’
    • ‘Instead of depending on medication, I rely on exercise to keep my body healthy.’
    have faith in, place one's trust in, put one's trust in, have confidence in, have every confidence in, believe in, pin one's faith on, pin one's hopes on
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    1. 2.1 Need or require for financial or other support.
      ‘a town that had depended heavily upon the wool industry’
      • ‘The media have gone from depending upon subscribers to depending upon advertisers for financial support.’
      • ‘This meals-on-wheels and other services depend on financial support from the public.’
      • ‘The success of the program depends on the community support and the willingness of employers to take on clients.’
      • ‘Matisse wrote letters to Amelie on a nearly daily basis, and depended on her support in ways that his contemporaries found fascinating and even slightly amusing.’
      • ‘Small enterprises depend on community financial support to move from small to medium size.’
      • ‘Continuation of the community service depends on your continued support.’
      • ‘He depended on financial support from a variety of friends who pitied him.’
      • ‘As we depend on the support of the public to raise funds we will be delighted to see as many people as possible on the night.’
      • ‘The program's success depends on the amount of support from local residents.’
      • ‘The success of the parish draw depends on the support of the community.’
      • ‘The continued success of the playschool depends on the active support of all parents.’
      • ‘The Irish Heart Foundation is a voluntary organisation and depends on the support of the people.’
      • ‘The police and army, on which the regime depends for support, have also been badly affected.’
      • ‘She has not depended on the Respondent for financial support other than for child support, which he has always paid.’
      • ‘As tuition and fees have increased, students have depended more on outside earnings to fund their education.’
      • ‘This excellent facility very much depends on public support, so please give generously.’
      • ‘The success of the fund-raising evening will depend on the support of the public.’
      • ‘The problem was that in a community where hunters depended on each other's support in times of difficulty, the man who shot dogs would soon find himself isolated.’
      rely on, place reliance on, lean on, cling to, be supported by, be sustained by, be unable to manage without
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    2. 2.2 Be grammatically dependent on.
      • ‘Draw dependency diagrams for the following examples; make sure you decide for every preposition whether it depends on a noun or a verb.’
      • ‘An adjective can depend on a noun, but can it also depend on another adjective?’
      • ‘Little did they think that the time would come in my life when I would depend upon being able to talk to earn a living for the family.’
      • ‘Subordinate clauses depend on the main clause for their meanings.’
  • 3archaic, literary Hang down.

    ‘his tongue depended from open jaws’
    • ‘The number of ribs that may depend from each panel is not critical to this invention.’
    • ‘Each of these portions has slots formed therein and tongues which depend from each slot.’
    hang, hang down, droop, sag, swing, sway, wave, trail, stream
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In informal use, it is quite common for the on to be dropped in sentences such as it all depends how you look at it (rather than it all depends on how you look at it), but in well-formed written English, the on should be retained. In more formal writing, and sometimes for sound, rhythm, or other rhetorical effect, upon is the preferred preposition: You may depend upon it


  • depending on

    • Being conditioned by; contingent on.

      ‘makes 8–10 burgers (depending on size)’
      with clause ‘the article sneered or just condescended, depending on how you read it’
      • ‘Tickets are $19.95 - $44.95 depending on how much food you'll need.’
      • ‘However, the Prison Service said, depending on how psychiatric illness is defined, the estimate of sufferers is closer to 10%.’
      • ‘I usually add a dash of my favorite hot sauce but depending on how spicy your chili powder is and how spicy you want it, you can skip this.’
      • ‘The Grading system awards beauty salons with 3, 4 or 5 stars, depending on how high standards and facilities are within the clinic.’
      • ‘We have a few options for times, depending on how we're getting there, and how late people want to stay up.’
      • ‘People were asked to fill out the form with their name and address and specify the amount donated - €10 or multiples depending on how many bricks one wanted to buy.’
      • ‘In addition, different analysts have drawn quite different conclusions from the same body of data about trends in poverty, depending on how the poverty line is estimated.’
      • ‘Dr Killen enjoys the variety of her work, but not the workload, which ranges from 50 to 80 hours a week, depending on how often she's called to the hospital after hours.’
      • ‘But with the right turn restrictions programme, the congestion could, depending on how it is implemented, be eased up thereby leading to an improved traffic flow.’
      • ‘Sometime around 2030 or so, depending on whose calculations you trust, things start to become very serious.’
  • it (or that)(all) depends

    • Used to express uncertainty or qualification in answering a question.

      ‘How many people use each screen? It all depends’
      • ‘The answer of course lies in the fact that it depends what you are looking for!’
      • ‘The short answer to your question is that it depends on what sort of production facilities you currently have.’
      • ‘The answer to that is it depends how well you get on with your teacher!’
      • ‘That has to be a question of opinion rather than fact, so it depends on what you make of the evidence.’
      • ‘Wrong question, since it depends on the definition of life, and so both answers are possible.’
      • ‘What you know about it depends on the questions you ask and the methods you use.’
      • ‘Perhaps the answer is that both answers are right, but it all depends on which way you want to look at it.’
      • ‘Hunt said the answer to that depends on how long ago the drug use took place.’
      • ‘The answer is that it depends on what level of specificity you have in mind.’
      • ‘Well, as in so many things, that depends on how you define ‘this country’.’


Late Middle English (in depend (sense 3); also in the sense ‘wait or be in suspense’): from Old French dependre, from Latin dependere, from de- ‘down’ + pendere ‘hang’.