Word Confusion: Addicted versus Dependent

Posted March 3, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions

Revised as of 14 August 2017

Huh? Who knew there was such a difference between addicted and dependent and yet so similar?

Addicted is specific about being dependent upon an object, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or enthusiasm for an activity. Dependent, however, has more than one meaning and can be more metaphysical — and it certainly doesn’t conjure up any enthusiasm!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

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Addicted Dependent
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

A logo-type cartoon design in green and white of an Xbox Addict

“Xbox Addict Logo” is Kamshaft’s own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses, via Wikimedia Commons

The famous “crazy guy” who’s addicted to Xbox.

Baby laughing with mom

“Danielle & Lilliyan” by Robert Whitehead is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Visual hunt

A child’s happiness is dependent upon their parent.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective Adjective

For the noun, see the post on “Dependant versus Dependent.

Physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects

  • Enthusiastically devoted to a particular thing or activity
Usually used as dependent on/upon

[Predic.] Contingent on or determined by

Requiring someone or something for financial, emotional, or other support

  • Unable to do without
  • [Grammar; of a clause, phrase, or word] Subordinate to another clause, phrase, or word
She became addicted to alcohol and diet pills.

He’s addicted to computers.

Being addicted to reading is a cheaper (and healthier) addiction than heroin.

The various benefits will be dependent on length of service.

In an economy heavily dependent on oil exports, we should be more vigorously exploring alternative energy sources.

The bill specifically states that it excludes households with dependent children.

It’s sad when people become dependent on drugs.

In this economy, we have more welfare-dependent families.

A dependent clause is also known as a subordinate clause.

More Adjectives: nonaddicted, nonaddicting, unaddicted, well-addicted

Noun: addict, addictedness, nonaddict

Adverb: dependently, quasi-dependently

Adjective: overdependent, predependent, quasi-dependent

History of the Word:
Mid-16th century from the obsolete adjective addict meaning bound or devoted (to someone). It’s from the Latin addict- meaning assigned, from the verb addicere, from ad- (to + dicere (say). Late Middle English dependant meaning hanging down, from the Old French, present participle of dependre. The spelling change in the 16th century was due to association with the Latin participial stem dependent-.

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C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Babies Born Dependent on Drugs Suffer Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is courtesy of HealthyStart, via Kenya Sinclair of California Network‘s article “Shocking video shows tragic reality of newborns struggling with drug addiction”, via Catholic Online.org.