pre·​ad·​ap·​ta·​tion | \ ˌprē-ˌa-ˌdap-ˈtā-shən How to pronounce preadaptation (audio) \

Definition of preadaptation

: a character or the condition of possessing a character that takes on a function when none previously existed or that differs from its original function : exaptation This principle of evolution is sometimes called preadaptation. There's no foresight involved, though—simply the lucky coincidence that a feature that evolved to do one thing may turn out later to do another thing even better.— Carl Zimmer

Note: While the newer term exaptation has been widely adopted, preadaptation continues to be acceptable in current usage with both terms showing comparable frequency of usage.

Other Words from preadaptation

preadapted \ ˌprē-​ə-​ˈdap-​təd How to pronounce preadaptation (audio) \ adjective
One hypothesis is that hot-blooded dinosaurs were clothed with feathers for insulation and were therefore preadapted for flight. — Alan Feduccia
preadaptive \ ˌprē-​ə-​ˈdap-​tiv How to pronounce preadaptation (audio) \ adjective
preadaptive structures

First Known Use of preadaptation

1958, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of preadaptation was in 1958

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Cite this Entry

“Preadaptation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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