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Why is it that drug addiction is referred to as ‘dependency’ and not ‘dependence’? I realize it’s a synonym but it seems like an unnecessary one. No one ever uses the word ‘independency’

  • March 13, 2006
  • Posted by tim
  • Filed in Misc

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Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.

Brigadier Martin April 3, 2006, 2:30pm

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Traditionally, a "dependency" was a component that relies on something else, like a commonwealth that depends on a country for defense, while "dependence" was the state of being dependent. I'm not sure when the meanings merged, but it seems like the words are now used interchangeably.

Having said that, "dependency" sort of makes me cringe. It sounds like Stephen Colbert's word "truthiness." I think if you look up the word "dependency" in the dictionary, the definition ought to be "reliantness."

amancalledj November 11, 2008, 11:11am

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I know someone at work who talks about FCC compliancy when he should say FCC compliance. It makes me cringe. I think some people just think they sound smarter if they use more syllables.

Anonymous November 11, 2008, 2:18pm

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Go on. Buck the trend. Things like this don't necessarily have a reason other than it being what everybody else does.

Helen March 19, 2006, 3:31pm

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You should see the movie or the play "1776", which includes the line (sung), "a declaration of independency..."

William June 15, 2007, 1:29pm

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You CAN say 'dependence'.
I'm dependent on drugs..
My dependence on heroin..
I don't see anything wrong with that.

hberry March 21, 2006, 8:11am

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The two words are interchangeable and can be used with the same meaning.

Dependency, however, has a special meaning used in Psychology that means overreliance on a person or thing. Strictly speaking, it would be incorrect to say "My dependence on heroin" in the context of psychology. The sentence is correct and the meaning is the same, but it would be counted as incorrect terminology.

Dependency is a specialist word in the psychological sense, just as it is a specialist word when used to mean a subject territory of a state which does not have a contiguous border to that state (such as Hawaii and Alaska).

andy March 21, 2006, 11:19am

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Yes     No