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or adaptor

[uh-dap-ter] /əˈdæp tər/
a person or thing that adapts.
  1. a connector for joining parts or devices having different sizes, designs, etc., enabling them to be fitted or to work together.
  2. Also called plug adapter, adapter plug. a device that connects an electrical plug to an outlet that has a different plug shape:
    Last time I traveled, I brought the wrong adapter.
  3. Also called AC adapter, power adapter. a device with a cord that plugs into an electrical outlet and functions as an external power supply for a small or portable electronic device, usually converting AC current to DC:
    I forgot to plug in the adapter, and my laptop died.
an accessory to convert a machine, tool, or part to a new or modified use.
  1. expansion card.
  2. an external device containing the necessary circuitry to connect to or work with another device or system:
    a network adapter; a wireless adapter; a video adapter.
Origin of adapter
First recorded in 1795-1805; adapt + -er1
Related forms
nonadapter, nonadaptor, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for adaptor
Historical Examples
  • The adaptor piece may have a face mould worked upon it to give a pilaster-like appearance if fancy so dictates.

    Woodwork Joints William Fairham
  • The artist and the adaptor have still hardly begun to work with the endless variety of substances now at their disposal.

  • He is styled the inventor of the velvet pile in tapestry, but it were better to call him the adaptor.

    The Tapestry Book Helen Churchill Candee
  • We can do some of these things by apparatus designed by the brain of man—and man really is but an imitator and adaptor of Nature.

  • The adaptor deserves great credit for altering as little as possible.

    A Boswell of Baghdad E. V. Lucas
British Dictionary definitions for adaptor


a person or thing that adapts
any device for connecting two parts, esp ones that are of different sizes or have different mating fitments
  1. a plug used to connect an electrical device to a mains supply when they have different types of terminals
  2. a device used to connect several electrical appliances to a single mains socket
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 adaptor



1801, agent noun from adapt. Electrical engineering sense from 1907.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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adaptor in Medicine

adapter a·dapt·er or a·dap·tor (ə-dāp'tər)

  1. One that adapts.

  2. A connecting part that joins two pieces of apparatus.

  3. A converter of electric current to a desired form.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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