Meaning of “independent” in the English Dictionary

"independent" in British English

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uk /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.dənt/ us /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.dənt/

independent adjective (NOT INFLUENCED)

B2 not influenced or controlled in any way by other people, events, or things:

an independent enquiry/organization
They all made the same comment, quite independent of each other (= without deciding together to do so).

An independent politician does not agree or vote with any particular political party.

More examples

  • An independent adviser has been brought in to conciliate between the two sides involved in the conflict.
  • It's hard to obtain truly independent financial advice.
  • Hundreds of small independent shops will be forced to close by the opening of this superstore.
  • We make use of available research facilities and license technology from independent sources.
  • The industry has not commented on the results of an independent study into the safety of mobile phones.

independent adjective (NOT RULED)

B2 An independent country is not governed or ruled by another country:

Belize became fully independent from Britain in 1981.
Tibet, once an independent country, is now ruled by China.

More examples

  • The province is nominally independent.
  • A bloody civil war followed the proclamation of an independent state.
  • The international community has refused to recognize the newly independent nation state.
  • The creation of independent states has led to a resurgence of nationalism.
  • After India became independent, she chose to be a member of the Commonwealth.

independent adjective (NOT HELPED)

B1 not taking help or money from other people:

Grandma's very independent and does all her own shopping and cooking.
I've always been financially independent.

More examples

  • She's fiercely independent.
  • She attaches great value to being financially independent.
  • She wanted to be independent and beholden to no one.
  • She's very mature and independent for her age.
  • I wish you'd be a bit more independent.
adverb uk /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.də us /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.də


  • Husbands and wives may be taxed independently.
  • If you've already got experience in word-processing and databases, you can take the spreadsheets module of the course independently.
  • For most young people, going to university is their first experience of living independently.
  • We were concerned that these animals, kept in captivity for so long, might not be able to survive independently in the wild.
  • Several different students came to me independently with the same concern, so I am taking the matter very seriously.


The two scientists both made the same discovery independently, at roughly the same time.
Each part of the organization operates independently of the others.

independentnoun [ C ]

uk /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.dənt/ us /ˌɪn.dɪˈpen.dənt/

(Definition of “independent” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"independent" in American English

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us /ˌɪn·dɪˈpen·dənt/

not influenced or controlled by other people but free to make your own decisions:

an independent thinker
Congress called for the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate the president.
Now that Jean’s got a job, she’s financially independent (= she does not need money from other people).

social studies If a country becomes independent, it is no longer governed or ruled by another country.

independent contractor

An independent contractor is a person who agrees to do a particular job for someone else for an agreed amount of money but who is not an employee:

She used to be on staff, but now she’s an independent contractor.
adverb us /ˌɪn·dɪˈpen·dənt·li/

The telephone was actually invented independently by two different people at almost the same time.

independentnoun [ C ]

us /ˌɪn·dɪˈpen·dənt/

politics & government a voter or politician who does not belong to a political party:

She is gaining support among independents who have no political preference or who lean Democratic.

(Definition of “independent” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"independent" in Business English

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uk /ˌɪndɪˈpendənt/ us

not influenced or controlled by the government or another organization:

independent of sth/sb The commission must remain independent of political control.
completely/fully/totally independent The charity is completely independent of government.
The agency is an independent body which monitors standards in the industry.
an independent adviser/auditor/expert
independent report/study/research

POLITICS not governed or ruled by another country:

an independent nation/state/country
independent from sth/sb Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821.

COMMERCE not part of a larger group of companies:

an independent business/firm/store
The band signed with an independent label.

privately financed and not receiving money from the government:

pupils from state and independent schools

not taking help or money from other people:

not involved in a situation so able to judge it fairly:

It's important to seek independent advice.

independentnoun [ C ]

uk /ˌɪndɪˈpendənt/ us

COMMERCE a business that does not belong to a larger company or group:

The industry ranges from large retailers to small independents.

(Definition of “independent” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)