adop·​tive ə-ˈdäp-tiv How to pronounce adoptive (audio)
: made or acquired by adoption
the adoptive father
: of or relating to adoption
adoptively adverb

Examples of adoptive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Rines told the Post that Robbie Tower was forced to call the police on Dima about three years ago, after his adoptive son allegedly attacked him and left him with a black eye. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, 7 Sep. 2023 When his grade-point average still proves too low for the NCAA, his adoptive father, a canny former college basketball standout named Sean Tuohy, manages to find a crucial loophole. Steve Almond, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2023 In the 2009 movie, Bullock played Oher's adoptive mother Leigh Anne Tuohy, while Tim McGraw played his adoptive father Sean Tuohy. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 14 Aug. 2023 Officials posted a photo of the adoptive siblings snuggling by the river after a swim. Brooke Baitinger, Anchorage Daily News, 27 July 2023 Luz Vargas, Fuentes' adoptive mother who runs a local cleaning service, was working five miles away. Lilia Luciano, CBS News, 21 Aug. 2023 South Florida’s warm wetlands offer the perfect adoptive habitat. Max G. Levy, WIRED, 18 Aug. 2023 The book became the basis of an even more popular film that won Sandra Bullock an Oscar for her portrayal of Leigh Anne Touhy, Oher’s fiercely protective adoptive mother. Steve Almond, Los Angeles Times, 17 Aug. 2023 In an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, How to Say Babylon, poet Safiya Sinclair recounts her upbringing in Jamaica—a life under livity, to use the argot of her parents’ adoptive Rastafarian tradition. Peter Rubin, Longreads, 1 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'adoptive.' 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 adoptif, borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French adoptif, going back to Old French, borrowed from Latin adoptīvus, from adoptāre "to adopt" + -īvus -ive

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near adoptive

Cite this Entry

“Adoptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


adop·​tive ə-ˈdäp-tiv How to pronounce adoptive (audio)
: made by or associated with adoption
the adoptive parents

Legal Definition


adop·​tive ə-ˈdäp-tiv How to pronounce adoptive (audio)
: having adopted
an adoptive parent
: having been adopted
an adoptive child
: 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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!