Definition of adopt in English:

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Pronunciation: /əˈdäpt/


[with object]
1Legally take another’s child and bring it up as one’s own: there are many people eager to adopt a baby
More example sentences
  • Such couples may have to wait a number of years before they can legally adopt a child.
  • About 4,939 Russian children are legally adopted by foreigners each year, but 184,000 still languish in orphanages.
  • We can legally marry and adopt children in every jurisdiction.
take as one's child, be adoptive parents to, take in, take care of
1.1Take up or start to use or follow (an idea, method, or course of action): this approach has been adopted by many big banks
More example sentences
  • Until that time, sauces followed the Roman method adopted by Taillevent: where thick pieces of stale bread were soaked in liquid and then strained through cloth.
  • I agree that this was an option and not obligatory, but most consulting engineers chose to adopt this method, as it satisfied the needs for the brief and avoided the need for dimensioning the drawings.
  • A few astrologers have chosen to adopt a third method of division.
1.2Take on or assume (an attitude or position): he adopted a patronizing tone adopt a slightly knees-bent position
More example sentences
  • No matter what the Court may announce on Monday, it will not be adopting this extreme position.
  • Like much of continental philosophy, feminist continental philosophy adopts a critical position with regard to reason.
  • She is an antireductionist - a position sometimes adopted by those who dislike what they perceive to be the direction of modern genetics.
1.3 (adopt someone as) Choose someone to receive special recognition: at least 23 people adopted as “prisoners of conscience” remain in jail
More example sentences
  • The local Tory party in Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross was due yesterday to take a decision on whether to adopt him as a candidate.
  • After coming joint top of the civil service exam, he joined the sector in 1946, only to resign the following year when he was adopted as the Parliamentary candidate for Bexley.
  • In 1921 he was adopted as a Labour candidate for Battersea North.
choose, select, pick, vote for, elect, settle on, decide on, opt for;
name, nominate, appoint
1.4Formally approve or accept (a report or suggestion): the committee voted 5-1 to adopt the proposal
More example sentences
  • It was agreed to adopt the report outlining the proposals as the basis for consultation with interested parties.
  • The committee unanimously voted to adopt the report and take the first steps towards implementing some of the suggestions.
  • The report was yesterday adopted by all senators with the Opposition fully in support of its contents and the eventual conclusion.
1.5(Of a local authority) accept responsibility for the maintenance of (a road).
Example sentences
  • A Wiltshire County Council spokesman said plans were in hand for the council to adopt the road as a highway in a year's time.
  • The Council has sent out letters telling residents that the Council are going to adopt the roads, but we, the residents, are being asked to pay to bring the roads up to standard before they get adopted.
  • The roads were adopted by the county council in 1964, but she stated that she did not believe the council had carried out its responsibilities of maintaining the roads and paths.


See adapt (usage).



Pronunciation: /əˈdäptəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • The methods and institutions and ethos of science that arose in the West at the time of the ‘scientific revolution’ proved to be the most exportable and universally adoptable products of civilisation.
  • I do, however, note that the evidence is that the child is adoptable and that there would be no difficulty in finding appropriate adoptive parents.
  • Under this general law, for instance, one way babies become adoptable is by the consent of their biological parents.


Pronunciation: /əˌdäpˈtē/
Example sentences
  • There are about six million adoptees in the United States.
  • Counselling would be available to adult adoptees, foster children, birth families and adoptive families, the report says.
  • Karen has already interviewed about 40 adoptees but is hoping to speak to more before holding a seminar in November.


Pronunciation: /əˈdäptər/
Example sentences
  • ‘This is the room we use for handing over babies to adopters,’ Laurelie Gray, supervisor of the unit, said.
  • Sue has interviewed birth mothers, adopted people, adopters and social workers to put together a history of adoption over the last century.
  • Prospective adopters need not be perfect, but do need to be open-minded, honest, flexible and see the process from the child's perspective.


Late 15th century: via French from Latin adoptare, from ad- 'to' + optare 'choose'.

  • option from mid 16th century:

    This goes back to Latin optare ‘choose’. Keep your options open is only recorded from the 1960s. You choose a specific child to adopt (Late Middle English) and this comes from the related word adopatare ‘choose for yourself’.

Words that rhyme with adopt

co-opt, Copt, opt

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: a·dopt

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