From Middle French adopter, from Latin adoptō; ad +‎ optō (to choose, desire), equivalent to ad- +‎ opt.



adopt (third-person singular simple present adopts, present participle adopting, simple past and past participle adopted)

  1. (transitive) To take by choice into relationship (a child, heir, friend, citizen, etc.)
    1. (transitive) To take voluntarily (a child of other parents) to be in the place of, or as, one's own child.
      A friend of mine recently adopted a Chinese baby girl found on the streets of Beijing.
    2. (transitive) To obtain (a pet) from a shelter or the wild.
      We're going to adopt a Dalmatian.
    3. (transitive) To take by choice into the scope of one's responsibility.
      This supermarket chain adopts several families every Yuletide, providing them with money and groceries for the holidays.
      • 2020 December 30, Paul Stephen, “Chirk station is truly blooming”, in Rail, page 49:
        Sixteen years ago, the station entered into a new chapter when it was adopted by the Friends of Chirk Station (FoCS) volunteer group, under the Arriva Trains Wales Station Adopters programme.
  2. (transitive) To take or receive as one's own what is not so naturally.
    He adopted a new look in order to fit in with his new workmates.
    • 2014 November 14, Blake Bailey, “'Tennessee Williams,' by John Lahr [print version: Theatrical victory of art over life, International New York Times, 18 November 2014, p. 13]”, in The New York Times[1]:
      [S]he [Edwina, mother of Tennessee Williams] was indeed Amanda [Wingfield, character in Williams' play The Glass Menagerie] in the flesh: a doughty chatterbox from Ohio who adopted the manner of a Southern belle and eschewed both drink and sex to the greatest extent possible.
  3. (transitive) To select and take or approve.
    to adopt the view or policy of another
    These resolutions were adopted.
  4. (transitive, informal, humorous, chess) to win ten consecutive games against an opponent

Usage notesEdit

In the sense of taking a child into one's family, Modern English makes a distinction between fostering (which is implied to be temporary or informal) and adopting (which is permanent and makes the child legally recognized as part of the family). In older usage the two terms were more interchangeable.

Related termsEdit


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.





  1. first-person singular present indicative of adopta
  2. first-person singular present subjunctive of adopta