Is there any single (or near to single) word for expressing those which I am dependent on? I am searching for a dual term to dependent - the other side of the dependency. Something like the interviewer - interviewee pair.

The use case is displaying monitoring information of my web application which would list the status of all the components my application is dependent on.

What I need is a word which may be used as an attribute (ideally an adjective), such as xxx components, xxx databases etc. Then just the plain dependencies is not sufficient as it refers to all the stuff my application is dependent on.


Rathony suggests the word dependee ("An agent that is depended on by a depender... Technical term, not widely used in software engineering outside of agent-oriented programming").

I found the definition of the -ee suffix:

  1. forming nouns:
  2. denoting the person affected directly or indirectly by the action of the formative verb. "employee"
  3. denoting a person described as or concerned with. "absentee"
  4. denoting an object of relatively smaller size. "goatee"

If I apply the definition to dependence, I cannot distinguish on which side of the relationship the "dependee" is.

How does that word sound to a native English (and not touched with agent-oriented programming)? Is it understood according to the above mentioned definition as someone who is "depended on"?

  • 1
    How about required or pre-requisites?
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 11:13
  • 1
    @DarrenYoung: Well, required is closely relative. But you often classify dependencies as required dependencies (those without which you application does not work at all) and optional dependencies (those nice to have for extended functionality), so it does not expresses the same notion. Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 11:26
  • 1
    @HonzaZidek This is not an exact match, but perhaps in the given context something like "database in use" or "component in use" could work? Another alternative would be "linked database", etc.
    – A.P.
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 11:59
  • Components in use is the closest match I have seen so far. Still it's a surprise for me that English doesn't have a complementary word to dependent (well, my language doesn't either :) ) Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 12:47
  • requisite or requirement are along the line of Steve's suggestions but seem slightly better to me.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Feb 8, 2022 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


You could consider using dependee as it means:

(programming) An agent that is depended on by a depender, the target of a dependency (used in agent-oriented programming)

There is a usage note:

Technical term, not widely used in software engineering outside of agent-oriented programming but finds some use. In agent-oriented programming the antonym is depender, though in general usage the common term dependent is used instead. There is no common language equivalent for dependee, however – other metaphors are used instead, such as parent/child. The circumlocutions “A depends on B” and “B is depended on by A” are much more common in general use than “A is the depender, B is the dependee”.


  • @HonzaZidek What happened to your example of "interviewer and interviewee"? Aren't you asking about "those which you are dependent on"? I think you are the one who is confused.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:04
  • Depender sounds to me like someone who depends, and dependee sounds like the addressee of the dependency. So none of those words sound like "the one I am dependent on". It is surprising to me that your definition has it right the opposite way. (I had written my first comment before you edited your answer and added the definition.) I am going to think about the terminology. How are such words understood by common public? Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:06
  • @HonzaZidek I didn't edit anything but pasting the usage note just in case you might be confused with it. It is not my definition, Wiktionary's definition and I posted it as it sounds close to what you want. I advise you not to say "please read my question better". It is rude.
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:08
  • Yes, the definition sounds exactly like what I am looking for! However the words sounds both to me (based on their endings) like being on the same (the dependent) side of the dependency relationship. (N.B. Adding text to the answer is one of the possible ways of editing the answer :) ) Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:10
  • @HonzaZidek When you find anyone who tries to help you, you say "thank you". When you find you were the one who was confused, you say "I am sorry". OK?
    – user140086
    Commented Nov 2, 2015 at 13:15

In wider usage, patron, benefactor, supplier or guardian could be appropriate options. In your more specific instance, I would suggest Provider:

1. a person or thing that provides. - dictionary.reference.com (emphasis added)

  • I agree that in the wider usage all your terms fit (+1 and thanks!), but they do not fulfill my use case in the IT world. Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 21:23

I know it is an old question, but I had a similar need to the OP. I ended up using the word Predecessor when referring to the other side of a dependency relationship. In my case I have dependencies between otherwise independent tasks that might be triggered out of order causing the dependent task to wait (for a limited time before throwing an error) for the task(s) it depends on to start and/or finish running. using predecessor --> dependent/successor helped me document and explain to others the mechanics of the solution in simple terms they grasped immediately. Hope this helps someone else.

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