adopted; adopting; adopts

transitive verb

: to take (someone or something) by choice into a relationship
They adopted Canada as their home.
: such as
: to take (a child born to other parents) voluntarily as one's own child especially in compliance with formal legal procedures
Many young couples … are experiencing infertility problems, and as a result, some are looking to adopt a child.Sonia Krohn
: to acquire (an animal) as a pet especially from an animal shelter
The family adopted a dog.
: to begin to practice or use (something, such as an approach or manner)
people who adopt a healthy lifestyle
He adopted a moderate tone.
Over the past year, I've adopted the habit of buying clothes and home goods only from ethical brands.Sunny Montgomery
Adopted from France, the widespread Victorian custom of leaving visiting cards led to the production of many types of card cases.William C. Ketchum, Jr.
The big three airlines have adopted different strategies in response to the pandemic.Ted Reed
Barnard explained that it was only in 1974 that the group adopted the name ABBA.Faith Qinga
: to accept and establish (something, such as a law or policy) in a formal or official way
adopt a constitutional amendment
adopted new safety measures
By then almost every state had adopted an animal anti-cruelty law.Mindy Norton
: to choose (educational materials) for required study in a course
The board is responsible for setting curriculum standards and adopting textbooks and other instructional materials for public
: to sponsor the care and maintenance of (something, such as a section of public road)
Rock Bridge [Community Church] has adopted part of Curtis Highway, while Northwest Georgia National has taken on part of Belwood Road.Cat Webb
: to take (a word from another language) into common use : borrow
English adopted the word "patio" from Spanish. = The English word "patio" was adopted from Spanish.

intransitive verb

: to adopt a child or animal
people who choose to adopt
adoptability noun
determine a pet's adoptability
adoptable adjective
a list of adoptable cats
adopter noun
plural adopters
an early adopter of new technology
… living rooms are great places for potential adopters to evaluate a dog … Dog Watch
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

Examples of adopt in a Sentence

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.
Recent Examples on the Web The coaches can counsel you on adopting a heart-healthy diet, fitting daily physical activity into your schedule, and reducing stress. Lauryn Higgins, Health, 16 Apr. 2024 Millennials have delayed having children, adopted dogs in droves, and frequently consider those pets to be as much a part of the family as any human, as my colleague Katherine J. Wu recently reported. Kate Cray, The Atlantic, 16 Apr. 2024 With the goal of protecting the public, the medical board adopted a penalty for Haddadan in accordance with the lower range of acceptable consequences under its disciplinary guidelines, state prosecutors argued. Rosalio Ahumada, Sacramento Bee, 16 Apr. 2024 The Sarbanes-Oxley law was adopted after the collapse of energy firm Enron in an accounting scandal that also took down the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2024 Twelve states and over 500 cities have adopted laws to regulate single-use plastics on the local level. Jenna Barackman, Kansas City Star, 15 Apr. 2024 That astonishing move is part of a larger pattern emerging in the Biden Administration, which has adopted an approach to trade policy that goes against traditional U.S. foreign policy. Ed Brzytwa, Fortune, 15 Apr. 2024 In addition to that mandate, CARB adopted the nation's most aggressive truck electrification plan in April 2023 and, shortly thereafter, regulations targeting freight train emissions. Thomas Catenacci, Fox News, 14 Apr. 2024 The GOP Senate candidate in Arizona, whose brand is a combative, never-back-down MAGA politics, has adopted a position on the issue that is nearly indistinguishable from that of double-talking Democrats. Rich Lowry, National Review, 14 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adopt.' 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 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 24 Apr. 2024.

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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