non·​adap·​tive ˌnän-ə-ˈdap-tiv How to pronounce nonadaptive (audio)
: not contributing to the fitness, performance, or survival of an organism or its parts : not arising by adaptation : not adaptive
Organisms are integrated systems and adaptive change in one part can lead to nonadaptive modifications of other features …Stephen Jay Gould
nonadaptive behavior

Examples of nonadaptive in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web As typical of adaptive sports, adaptive skiing tends to cost more than nonadaptive skiing. Kathleen Wong, USA TODAY, 22 Feb. 2023 According to this model, much of the restructuring of eukaryotic genomes was initiated by nonadaptive processes, and this in turn provided novel substrates for the secondary evolution of phenotypic complexity by natural selection. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 27 Aug. 2010 But what about when this guilt is based on actions taken in life-or-death situations—such as on the battlefield or in an emergency room—and is distinctly nonadaptive? Anna Harwood-Gross, Scientific American, 24 Mar. 2020 Even prior to this study, the two concepts — adaptation versus exaptation (drawn from nonadaptive traits or traits adapted for another purpose) — were difficult to separate. Quanta Magazine, 4 Sep. 2013

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'nonadaptive.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1872, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nonadaptive was in 1872

Dictionary Entries Near nonadaptive

Cite this Entry

“Nonadaptive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


non·​adap·​tive ˌnän-ə-ˈdap-tiv, -a-ˈ How to pronounce nonadaptive (audio)
: not serving to adapt the individual to the environment
nonadaptive traits
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