adopted; adopting; adopts

transitive verb

: to take by choice into a relationship
especially : to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one's own child
: to take up and practice or use
adopted a moderate tone
: to accept formally and put into effect
adopt a constitutional amendment
: to choose (a textbook) for required study in a course
: to sponsor the care and maintenance of
adopt a highway

intransitive verb

: to adopt a child
couples choosing to adopt
adoptability noun
adoptable adjective
adopter noun
Choose the Right Synonym for adopt

adopt, embrace, espouse mean to take an opinion, policy, or practice as one's own.

adopt implies accepting something created by another or foreign to one's nature.

forced to adopt new policies

embrace implies a ready or happy acceptance.

embraced the customs of their new homeland

espouse adds an implication of close attachment to a cause and a sharing of its fortunes.

espoused the cause of women's rights

Example Sentences

They were unable to have children of their own, so they decided to adopt. They decided to adopt a child. He was adopted as an infant. Did he adopt your point of view? We adopted some of the local customs. The author Samuel Clemens adopted the name “Mark Twain.” He was born in England but he has adopted Canada as his home. The assembly adopted a new constitution. The resolution was unanimously adopted by the Senate. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Rob Gronkowski and Camille Kostek adopt a dog To celebrate Gronkowski's Super Bowl win, the couple adopted a French bulldog named him Ralphie in February 2021. Robin Raven, Peoplemag, 27 Jan. 2023 According to the Jerusalem Post, Gesher will invest $80 million at a $500 million valuation for the company which will adopt a new name and trading symbol Freightos (CRGO). Peter Cohan, Forbes, 25 Jan. 2023 Employers looking to attract and retain Gen Z employees must adopt their mantra. Tammy Polk, Quartz, 24 Jan. 2023 As the nineteenth century progressed, Georgian literary youths began to study in St. Petersburg, read Pushkin, and adopt Russian Romantic rhetoric to describe Georgian national identity. Elif Batuman, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2023 The pandemic accelerated two other dynamics: Not only did people adopt more pets, they got stuck at home together. Jacob Bogage, Washington Post, 22 Jan. 2023 General Electric will adopt the name of GE Aerospace, once its other units are split off, and will be headquartered in Evendale, a Cincinnati suburb, company officials said. Alexander Coolidge, The Enquirer, 20 Jan. 2023 Their hope is that Republicans adopt positions that might be popular with their base but that will cost them the moderate suburbanites who are critical in the general election. Katie Glueck, New York Times, 20 Jan. 2023 Last spring, Pilotte’s disdain proved useful to Casella when voters in Dalton were deciding whether to adopt permanent zoning laws likely to bar the construction of Casella’s landfill. Bill Donahue,, 19 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


Middle English adopten, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French adopter, borrowed from Latin adoptāre, from ad- ad- + optāre "to express a wish for, desire, choose, decide on" — more at option entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near adopt

Cite this Entry

“Adopt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to take legally as one's own child
adopted a baby girl
: to take as one's own
adopt a point of view
: to accept formally
the assembly adopted a constitution
adoptable adjective
adopter noun

Legal Definition


transitive verb
: to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one's own child especially in compliance with formal legal procedures see also equitable adoption
: to take or accept as if one's own
[the company] adopted the signature on the financing statementBarber-Greene Co. v. Nat'l City Bank of Minneapolis, 816 F.2d 1267 (1987)
: to accept formally and put into effect
adopt a constitutional amendment
adoptable adjective
adoption noun

More from Merriam-Webster on adopt

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