adapted; adapting; adapts

transitive verb

: to make fit (as for a new use) often by modification
adapt the curriculum to students' needs

intransitive verb

: to become adapted
adapt to a new environment

Did you know?

"Nothing in this world is as reliable as change" is a common aphorism and one we can certainly attest to as lexicographers. English speakers adapted adapt, for example, in the 15th century from the Middle French adapter, which was itself an adaptation of Latin adaptāre. That source traces back to Latin aptus, meaning "fit" or "apt." Other adaptations of aptus in English include aptitude, inept, and of course apt itself, as well as unapt and inapt.

Choose the Right Synonym for adapt

adapt, adjust, accommodate, conform, reconcile mean to bring one thing into correspondence with another.

adapt implies a modification according to changing circumstances.

adapted themselves to the warmer climate

adjust suggests bringing into a close and exact correspondence or harmony such as exists between parts of a mechanism.

adjusted the budget to allow for inflation

accommodate may suggest yielding or compromising to effect a correspondence.

businesses accommodating themselves to the new political reality

conform applies to bringing into accordance with a pattern, example, or principle.

refused to conform to society's values

reconcile implies the demonstration of the underlying compatibility of things that seem to be incompatible.

tried to reconcile what he said with what I knew

Examples of adapt in a Sentence

When children go to a different school, it usually takes them a while to adapt. She has adapted herself to college life quite easily. The camera has been adapted for underwater use. The clock was adapted to run on batteries. The movie was adapted from the book of the same title. adapting the movie for television See More
Recent Examples on the Web More than that, a global carbon-pricing framework could generate revenue for developing countries to use to help their people adapt to climate change. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, Foreign Affairs, 11 Sep. 2023 Hodges believes that Ukraine also adapted by launching long range drone attacks inside Russia that demonstrate that Ukraine's counteroffensive is much more comprehensive than just a land campaign. Luis Martinez, ABC News, 11 Sep. 2023 Comedy genius Mel Brooks adapted his legendary film into this stage creation. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 10 Sep. 2023 The hope now is that this haven of green can offer crucial breathing space to a city ill adapted to heat. Juliette Guéron-Gabrielle,, 9 Sep. 2023 Victoria’s Secret, meanwhile, is trying to adapt to the present and future, which seems to belong to shapewear. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 By pushing nations to slash their greenhouse gas emissions, the global accord strives to avoid climate change so extreme that life on Earth would struggle to adapt. Justine Calma, The Verge, 8 Sep. 2023 Two new reports out this week show that nation-states are also likely rushing to adapt the same technology into weapons of misinformation, in what could become a troubling AI arms race between great powers. Will Knight, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 Brad, an ambitious and creative risk-taker, is constantly reinventing the company by discovering and inventing new products to adapt to an ever-evolving market. Nick Kasmik, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adapt.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English adapted (as translation of Latin adaptātus), borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French adapter, borrowed from Latin adaptāre, from ad- ad- + aptāre "to put into position, bring to bear, make ready," verbal derivative of aptus "fastened, prepared, suitable" — more at apt entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of adapt was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near adapt

Cite this Entry

“Adapt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to make or become suitable
especially : to change so as to fit a new or specific use or situation
adapt to life in a new school
adapt the novel for children

from French adapter and Latin adaptare, both meaning "to adapt," from Latin ad- "to" and aptus "apt, fit" — related to apt

Medical Definition


transitive verb
: to make fit (as for a specific or new use or situation) often by modification
adapted himself to the new position

intransitive verb

: to become adapted : undergo adaptation

More from Merriam-Webster on adapt

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