v. de·pend·ed, de·pend·ing, de·pends
1. To rely, especially for support or maintenance: Children must depend on their parents.
2. To place trust or confidence: You can depend on his honesty. See Synonyms at rely.
3. To be determined, influenced, or contingent: a grade depending on the results of the final exam.
4. To have a dependence: began to depend more and more on drugs.
5. Archaic To hang down: "And ever-living Lamps depend in Rows" (Alexander Pope).
To be determined by, be influenced by, or be contingent on: "What happened?" "It depends who you ask."
[Middle English dependen, to hang down, from Old French dependre, from Latin dēpendēre : dē-, de- + pendēre, to hang; see (s)pen- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: In standard writing, depend is followed by on or upon when indicating condition or contingency, as in It depends on who is in charge. Omission of the preposition is typical of casual speech.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus