in-dê-pen-dêns • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass (no plural)
Meaning: 1. Freedom from outside influence or control, self-regulation, self-governance. 2. Having sufficient income to support yourself and your family, self-reliant (financial independence).
Notes: Independence, of course, is the noun derived from the adjective independent. The adjective also has an adverb, independently, a common enough word in our vocabularies. Today those of us in the US celebrate the proclamation of our independence from Great Britain in our aptly named Declaration of Independence. The document declaring the independence of the USA from England was signed just down the road from alphaDictionary's home (Lewisburg, Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. You will find biographies of all 56 signers linked to this page, which also contains the Declaration itself.
In Play: Although politically independent, the US finds itself more and more economically dependent on the rest of the world: "As fossil fuel consumption continues to increase, the US needs to find alternative ways back to the energy independence it once enjoyed." While nations and other political entities often strive for independence, so do individuals: "Well, son, while I like your poetry, I doubt it will lead you to financial independence."
Word History: Independent is composed of in- "un-, not" + dependent. Dependent is the thinly disguised present participle, depend-en(t)s, of the Latin verb dependere "to hang from, depend". This verb is made up of the prefix de- "from" + pendere "to hang". The root pend- in this word is a variant of the root in the Latin adverb pondo "by weight" from which we also snitched English pound. Pondere "to weigh, ponder", the Latin verb from this noun, is also the source of English ponder "to weigh" (an idea), in case you haven't already guessed. Today is a wonderful day, by the way, to ponder all the benefits of the independence and freedoms we enjoy every day.
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