mal·adap·tive | \-tiv \

Definition of maladaptive 

1 : marked by poor or inadequate adaptation

2 : not conducive to adaptation

Examples of maladaptive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Complicated grief can be defined as a more persistent form of intense grief in which maladaptive thoughts and dysfunctional behaviors emerge, along with continued yearning and sadness or preoccupation with thoughts of the person who died. Jacqueline Howard, CNN, "A name for grief that goes on and on," 16 May 2018 The other interesting finding was a link between the use the maladaptive coping and the probability that a runner would finish the race. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why It Matters How You Think About Pain," 10 Apr. 2018 These maladaptive neurological changes can persist long after the alcohol use stops. Jamie Smolen,, "How to know when holiday drinking is hurting your brain," 23 Dec. 2017 These behaviors are believed to be maladaptive mechanisms for dealing with the psychological suffering that comes from isolation. Mark Joseph Stern, Slate Magazine, "Solitary Confinement Is a Great American Shame," 10 Feb. 2017 What looks to us like a maladaptive state might be the best of many bad options. National Geographic, "Why Crested Penguins Always Lay Doomed Eggs," 4 Oct. 2016 What looks to us like a maladaptive state might be the best of many bad options. National Geographic, "Why Crested Penguins Always Lay Doomed Eggs," 4 Oct. 2016 Today this form of punishment can easily become abuse, and is a maladaptive habit that most black folk inherited. Richael Faithful, The Root, "We Need More Than Self-Care; We Need Healing, Too," 25 May 2017 A possible maladaptive behavior according to Joyce, this loud trumpeting has the adverse effect of attracting passerby males. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "Why This Male Elephant Attacked a Newborn Calf," 2 May 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of maladaptive

1931, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about maladaptive

Share maladaptive

Statistics for maladaptive

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for maladaptive

The first known use of maladaptive was in 1931

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on maladaptive

What made you want to look up maladaptive? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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