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Distinction between dependant and dependent.

Is it necessary to make a distinction between dependant and dependent?

This is confusing to say the least! From time to time I have to think twice before deciding whether to use the word dependant or dependent. I am never quite sure. It’s all right for Americans because they don’t make such a distinction and always use dependent.

In British English, however, dependant is the noun (someone, such as a child, who depends on another, especially for financial support) and dependent the adjective (e.g. dependent on drugs).
For those who are interested, the word has its roots in Latin (de = down, and pendeo, pependi = to hang from, to be suspended). The pendulum of a clock has similar origins.

Do you think American English loses something by not making this distinction between dependant and dependent? Or is it unnecessary to make such a distinction in the first place?

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