adap·​tive | \ ə-ˈdap-tiv, a-\

Definition of adaptive

1 : providing, contributing to, or marked by adaptation : arising as a result of adaptation … left ventricular hypertrophy should not be considered solely an adaptive response to an increased ventricular workload.— Edward D. Frohlich et al. An effort to identify the healthy adaptive need that is being met by a patient's behavior can result in increased empathy for the patient.— Thomas O. Brackett specifically : of, relating to, or being a heritable trait that serves a specific function and improves an organism's fitness or survival Webbed feet is an adaptive trait in aquatic animals.
2a : designed or intended to assist disabled persons : assistive adaptive devices
b : engaged in by disabled persons with the aid of equipment or techniques adapted for a disability adaptive skiing
c : participating in a sport with the aid of equipment or techniques adapted for disability an adaptive skier

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Other Words from adaptive

adaptively adverb
adaptiveness noun
adaptivity \ ˌa-​ˌdap-​ˈti-​və-​tē \ noun

Examples of adaptive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Most adaptive cruise-control systems rely on radar to detect the vehicle ahead of a car, and radar isn't good at distinguishing stationary objects in the road from objects near the road. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "The hype around driverless cars came crashing down in 2018," 30 Dec. 2018 Fortunately, America’s messy version of capitalism provides an adaptive and corrective capacity if allowed to operate. WSJ, "China’s Market Meddling Will End Like Japan’s," 26 Dec. 2018 Burke has been instrumental in making accessible and adaptive fashion a much more prominent part of the larger conversation. Michaela Dosamantes, Glamour, "6 Women Who Are Shaping the Future of Fashion," 23 Oct. 2018 That’s the vision of Carlo Ratti Associati, an experimental architecture studio that’s working with Sidewalk Labs to reimagine city streets as an interactive and adaptive kit of parts. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Futuristic road concept is made of reconfigurable parts that light up," 6 Aug. 2018 The program trains visually impaired instructors to work one-on-one with visually impaired clients on using adaptive technology and devices. Lisa Deaderick,, "Helping others with vision loss use technology," 6 Jan. 2018 Most projects so far, like this Venice complex, have been adaptive reuse. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Coliving scales up with larger buildings, and bigger ambitions," 31 Oct. 2018 The 2018 Honda Accord has a modern fastback shape, adaptive radar cruise control, semi-autonomous lane-keeping assist, and a road departure mitigation system that will keep you from distractedly drifting into the abyss. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "The 2018 Honda Accord Sport is a stirring sedan," 11 May 2018 Amazon also says that the lighting is improved, with an additional LED for a total of five (for reference, the high-end Oasis features 12 LEDs, plus an adaptive light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment). Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (2018) review: the new best-seller," 7 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'adaptive.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of adaptive

1760, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adaptive

adapt + -ive

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Statistics for adaptive

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for adaptive

The first known use of adaptive was in 1760

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More Definitions for adaptive


adap·​tive | \ ə-ˈdap-tiv \

Medical Definition of adaptive

1 : capable of, suited to, or contributing to adaptation adaptive traits that enhance survival and diversification of species …Science News, 1 Feb. 1986
2a : used to assist a person with a disability in performing a certain task or activity : assistive Adaptive equipment might include Braille keyboards, voice synthesizers and adjustable-height computer tables.— Stuart Gordon, The Modesto (California) Bee, 15 Dec. 1995
b : engaged in by disabled persons with the aid of equipment or techniques adapted for a disability It is called wheelchair basketball, an adaptive sport for disabled people … — James Nix, The Independent Tribune (Concord, North Carolina), 17 Feb. 2010
c : participating in a sport with the aid of equipment or techniques adapted for a disability Ever seen those inspirational adaptive skiers cranking down the mountain in their ski chairs, or with a blind skier guide?— Moira McCarthy, The Boston Herald, 10 Jan. 2007

Other Words from adaptive

adaptively adverb
adaptiveness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on adaptive

Britannica English: Translation of adaptive for Arabic Speakers

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