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[uh-dop-tiv] /əˈdɒp tɪv/
of or involving adoption.
acquired or related by adoption:
an adoptive father or son.
tending to adopt.
Origin of adoptive
late Middle English
1400-50; < Latin adoptīvus; see adopt, -ive; replacing late Middle English adoptife < Middle French adoptif
Related forms
adoptively, adverb
unadoptive, adjective
unadoptively, adverb
Can be confused
adaptive, adoptive.
adopted, adoptive.
Usage note
Although adoptive in the sense “acquired or related by adoption” can refer to either parent or child in such a relationship, adoptive is customarily applied to the parent (her adoptive mother) and adopted to the child (their adopted son). Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for adoptive
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He went in, and the next moment he was in the arms of his adoptive father.

    The Lion's Skin Rafael Sabatini
  • Both girls used that delicate shading of their adoptive tie with him.

    The Prisoner Alice Brown
  • But more possible where there are seven adoptive sisters, than where there is only one.

    Gryll Grange Thomas Love Peacock
  • Such is the institution, ingeniously severe, of aunts or adoptive mothers.

    The Insect Jules Michelet
  • Lieutenant Barclay did not forget to visit his adoptive father.

    Barclay of the Guides Herbert Strang
British Dictionary definitions for adoptive


acquired or related by adoption: an adoptive father
of or relating to adoption Compare adopted
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 adoptive

early 15c., from Middle French adoptif, from Latin adoptivus "pertaining to adoption," from stem of adoptere (see adopt).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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