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 preadapted (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 preadaptive (audio) \ adjective
preadaptive structures

First Known Use of preadaptation

1958, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about preadaptation

Statistics for preadaptation

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for preadaptation

The first known use of preadaptation was in 1958

See more words from the same year

Comments on preadaptation

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


recurring in steady succession

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
True or False

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


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!