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[ad-uh p-tey-shuh n] /ˌæd əpˈteɪ ʃən/
the act of adapting.
the state of being adapted; adjustment.
something produced by adapting:
an adaptation of a play for television.
  1. any alteration in the structure or function of an organism or any of its parts that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and multiply in its environment.
  2. a form or structure modified to fit a changed environment.
  3. the ability of a species to survive in a particular ecological niche, especially because of alterations of form or behavior brought about through natural selection.
Physiology. the decrease in response of sensory receptor organs, as those of vision, touch, temperature, olfaction, audition, and pain, to changed, constantly applied, environmental conditions.
Ophthalmology. the regulating by the pupil of the quantity of light entering the eye.
Also, adaption
[uh-dap-shuh n] /əˈdæp ʃən/ (Show IPA)
. Sociology. a slow, usually unconscious modification of individual and social activity in adjustment to cultural surroundings.
Origin of adaptation
1600-10; < Medieval Latin adaptātiōn- (stem of adaptātiō), equivalent to Latin adaptāt(us) (past participle of adaptāre to adapt; see -ate1) + -iōn- -ion
Related forms
adaptational, adjective
adaptationally, adverb
counteradaptation, noun
interadaption, noun
misadaptation, noun
nonadaptation, noun
nonadaptational, adjective
readaptation, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for adaption
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The fact that this was in the beginning a well-equipped club made the problem of its adaption a very slight one indeed.

    With the Doughboy in France Edward Hungerford
  • Max was never more of an artist than in his adaption of manner to theme.

    King John of Jingalo Laurence Housman
  • I returned to America that year with their adaption, calling it "The Nominee."

    Nat Goodwin's Book Nat C. Goodwin
  • On previous occasions, the adaption of soul to body was a work of time; but here it seemed the work of but a few hours.

    Sheppard Lee, Vol. I (of 2) Robert Montgomery Bird
  • But the experimental days have passed, both in the manufacture of motor trucks and in their adaption to various lines of work.

  • The adaption of means to ends in nature clearly indicates a ——, and so proves a ——er.

    English Synonyms and Antonyms James Champlin Fernald
  • This first sleeping car was, as was later the first Pullman car, an adaption of an ordinary day coach to sleeping requirements.

  • Indeed there is nothing in civilized countries to approach it in its combination of beauty and adaption for the purposes intended.

    Stanley in Africa James P. Boyd
  • Mechanical ingenuity was largely developed in the adaption of materials.

    The British Expedition to the Crimea William Howard Russell
British Dictionary definitions for adaption


another word for adaptation


/ˌædəpˈteɪʃən; ˌædæp-/
the act or process of adapting or the state of being adapted; adjustment
something that is produced by adapting something else
something that is changed or modified to suit new conditions or needs
(biology) an inherited or acquired modification in organisms that makes them better suited to survive and reproduce in a particular environment
(physiol) the decreased response of a sense organ to a repeated or sustained stimulus
(psychol) (in learning theory) the weakening of a response to a stimulus with repeated presentation of the stimulus without reinforcement; applied mainly to innate responses
(social welfare) alteration to a dwelling to make it suitable for a disabled person, as by replacing steps with ramps
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for adaption



c.1600, "action of adapting," from French adaptation, from Late Latin adaptationem (nominative adaptatio), noun of action from past participle stem of adaptare (see adapt). Meaning "condition of being adapted" is from 1670s. Sense of "modification of a thing to suit new conditions" is from 1790. Biological sense first recorded 1859 in Darwin's writings.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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adaption in Medicine

adaptation ad·ap·ta·tion (ād'āp-tā'shən)

  1. The acquisition of modifications in an organism that enable it to adjust to life in a new environment.

  2. An advantageous change in the function or constitution of an organ or tissue to meet new physiological conditions.

  3. Adjustment of the pupil and retina to varying degrees of illumination.

  4. A property of certain receptors through which they become less responsive or cease to respond to repeated or continued stimuli of constant intensity.

  5. The fitting, condensing, or contouring of a restorative dental material to a tooth or cast.

  6. The dynamic process in which the behavior and physiological mechanisms of an individual continually change to adjust to variations in living conditions.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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adaption in Science
A change in structure, function, or behavior by which a species or individual improves its chance of survival in a specific environment. Adaptations develop as the result of natural selection operating on random genetic variations that are capable of being passed from one generation to the next. Variations that prove advantageous will tend to spread throughout the population.

Our Living Language  : The gazelle is extremely fast, and the cheetah is even faster. These traits are adaptations—characteristics or behaviors that give an organism an edge in the struggle for survival. Darwinian theory holds that adaptations are the result of a two-stage process: random variation and natural selection. Random variation results from slight genetic differences. For example, one cheetah in a group may be slightly faster than the others and thus have a better chance of catching a gazelle. The faster cheetah therefore has a better chance of being well-fed and living long enough to produce offspring. Since the cheetah's young have the same genes that made this parent fast, they are more likely to be fast than the young of slower cheetahs. The process is repeated in each generation, and thereby great speed becomes an adaptation common to cheetahs. This same process of natural selection, in which the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characteristics in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated, also favors the fastest gazelles. Though evolution, in this case, may be thought of as an "arms race," animals may also adapt to their environment in a process known as adaptive radiation, as the so-called Darwin's finches in the Galápagos have done. On the islands, one type of finch gradually gave rise to some 13 different species of birds with differently shaped beaks, each species having adapted to its varying food niches and feeding habits. And, though we seldom think of it, humans also have an impact on an organism's adaptation to its environment. For instance, because of the misuse of antibiotics, some disease-causing bacteria have rapidly adapted to become resistant to the drugs.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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adaption in Culture

adaptation definition

The changes made by living systems in response to their environment. Heavy fur, for example, is one adaptation to a cold climate.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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