Possible Duplicate:
A depends on B, is A dependant, or is B dependant?

I'm trying to find a word that is the counterpart to "dependent", i.e. refers to the one who the dependent relies upon. A word that meets a definition along the lines of the following:

One who has dependents, but is not necessarily a dependent himself.

Or perhaps:

One upon whom others depend.

It came about in a discussion with some coworkers and none of us could find an answer and now it's really bothering me.

I tried searching for it on Google, but I could only find results relating to income tax filing status and similar topics.

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    also related, but probably from a different usage context: english.stackexchange.com/questions/25575/…
    – Hellion
    May 10, 2012 at 14:13
  • @MattЭллен that is a helpful and related question. One of the answers mentions dependency, but my understanding of dependency is that a dependency is that "subordinate or dependent".
    – mason81
    May 10, 2012 at 14:32
  • @Hellion that is helpful and related. Again, here they mention "dependency" as an answer, but I don't think that fits. "dependent is to employee as dependency is to employer" does seem to work. I thought dependency was a synonym for dependent?
    – mason81
    May 10, 2012 at 14:34
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    Even though it's probably not an "accepted" word currently, I don't think it would be horrible to use dependee, as the asker of Hellion's linked question did. It's fairly clear to anyone hearing the term that the dependee is the person depended upon by the dependent.
    – John Y
    May 10, 2012 at 21:39

3 Answers 3


Benefactor is a suitable word.

A person who confers a benefit

Depending upon the context (i.e., the value and importance of the benefit conferred) you could use donor, patron or the simple contributor or giver.

Plenty of words satisfy your requirement.

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    So in this case my analogy would have better had I said: "dependent is to beneficiary as [blank] is to benefactor" as that would have better inferred both the defined relationship and also the phonetic relationship. So, that being said, there are no words that describe this relationship and have a similar spelling/pronunciation (in the way that beneficiary and benefactor are similar) for dependent?
    – mason81
    May 10, 2012 at 14:38

A dependent relies upon a provider.

1. One who supplies a means of subsistence:

  • This answer makes sense. I was hoping for a word that had a similar spelling and/or pronunciation as dependent (in a way that employee and employer are similar in spelling/pronunciation). Perhaps such a word simply does not exist. Thank you for your answer.
    – mason81
    May 10, 2012 at 14:40
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    A dependent can also rely on a parent. (And that is not necessarily just a familial term. There is this meaning: 4. A guardian; a protector.
    – JLG
    May 10, 2012 at 14:45

The US Military uses the word sponsor, as the dependents of a military sponsor may include, but not be limited to children, spouses, or other family members.

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