mal·​adap·​tive | \ ˌma-lə-ˈdap-tiv How to pronounce maladaptive (audio) \

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 In doing so, the researchers thought, the intervention could reduce obsessive-compulsive behaviors associated with maladaptive habits. Diana Kwon, Scientific American, "Electrical Brain Stimulation May Alleviate Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors," 19 Jan. 2021 This gives rise to the other attachment styles: anxious and avoidant, sometimes referred to as maladaptive attachment styles. Eve Ettinger, Allure, "How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationships," 28 Nov. 2020 Like a peacock rendered nearly flightless by gaudy tail feathers, the overserved athlete is the product of a process that has become maladaptive, and is now harming the very blue-chip demographic it was supposed to help. Ruth S. Barrett, The Atlantic, "Rich Parents Went All In on Lacrosse. And Squash. And Water Polo.," 17 Oct. 2020 Through that lens, vampire bats’ relentless congregating might seem maladaptive. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "When Illness Strikes, Vampire Bat Moms Will Still Socialize With Their Kids," 13 Mar. 2020 But in the case of the allergy patients, that memory apparently becomes maladaptive. Quanta Magazine, "Stem Cells Remember Tissues’ Past Injuries," 12 Nov. 2018 By definition, [personality disorders] represent maladaptive variance of normative personality functioning. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "What Mental Health Experts Want You to Know Before Watching the Buzzy New YouTube Series ‘The Mind of Jake Paul’," 12 Oct. 2018 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 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

Time Traveler for maladaptive

Time Traveler

The first known use of maladaptive was in 1931

See more words from the same year

Statistics for maladaptive

Last Updated

26 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Maladaptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

More from Merriam-Webster on maladaptive

Nglish: Translation of maladaptive for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of maladaptive for Arabic Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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