adop·​tive | \ ə-ˈdäp-tiv How to pronounce adoptive (audio) \

Definition of adoptive

1 : made or acquired by adoption the adoptive father
2 : of or relating to adoption

Other Words from adoptive

adoptively adverb

Examples of adoptive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web His adoptive father died of a heart attack when Cruz was 5. Gerard Albert Iii, USA TODAY, 4 Apr. 2022 The family adopted her, but the summer after first grade, her adoptive mother died of cancer. Washington Post, 18 Apr. 2022 His adoptive mother, Emma Joseph, was married three times. New York Times, 31 Mar. 2022 Dev Patel plays older Saroo, searching for his family, Nicole Kidman plays Saroo's adoptive mother, and Priyanka Rose plays Saroo's biological mother. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, 3 Mar. 2022 In The Queen’s Gambit, deft touches filled out the portrait of Beth Harmon’s alcoholic adoptive mother, Alma, played by Marielle Heller, who had recently turned 40. Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 3 Feb. 2022 My adoptive mother told the tree story to my godmother, who later told me, but the story is incomplete and so typical of my childhood in Korea. Los Angeles Times, 27 Jan. 2022 Some allegations likely mirror those in a 2020 Nevada criminal complaint against the victim’s adoptive mother and the federal indictment of Griffin announced last month. Stephanie Pagones, Fox News, 11 Jan. 2022 Dorin Kobus’s adoptive mother, encouraging her to explore her heritage, took her to a Korean cultural program in Minneapolis. E. Tammy Kim, The New York Review of Books, 5 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of adoptive

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for adoptive

Middle English adoptif, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French adoptif, going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin adoptīvus, from adoptāre "to adopt" + -īvus -ive

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The first known use of adoptive was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near adoptive



adoptive arms

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Last Updated

12 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Adoptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for adoptive


adop·​tive | \ ə-ˈdäp-tiv How to pronounce adoptive (audio) \

Legal Definition of adoptive

1a : having adopted an adoptive parent
b : having been adopted an adoptive child
2 : made or acquired by accepting as one's own the words or actions of another to constitute an adoptive admission…defendant must actually understand what was said and have an opportunity to deny itUnited States v. White, 766 F. Supp. 873 (1991)

More from Merriam-Webster on adoptive

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for adoptive

Nglish: Translation of adoptive for Spanish Speakers


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