[ uh-dopt ]
/ əˈdɒpt /
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See synonyms for: adopt / adopted / adopting on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to take a nonbiological child into one’s home and raise as one’s own.
to acquire a pet, especially one from an animal rescue organization: “Adopt! Don’t shop!” is the popular slogan promoted by one nonprofit animal advocacy group.
Verb Phrases
adopt out, to place in a home by means of adoption: The shelter provides basic medical care and vaccinations to the animals they will be adopting out.
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Origin of adopt

First recorded 1490–1500; late Middle English adopten, partly from Middle French adopter, partly from Latin adoptāre, equivalent to ad- verb prefix + optāre “to desire, pray for”; see ad-, opt



1. adapt, adept, adopt 2. adopted , adoptive
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does adopt mean?

To adopt is to take another parent’s child into one’s custody, typically in a formal legal way, in order to permanently act as their parent or guardian.

This most commonly involves an adult couple or a single adult adopting and raising a child who is no longer in the custody of either of their birth parents (biological parents), such as in cases where they have died or are otherwise unable to care for the child. This sense of adopt can also be used in reference to adopting an animal as a pet, such as from an animal shelter. The word is especially used this way when the animal had a previous caretaker.

Adopt and the noun form adoption have many other more general meanings. Most generally, adopt means to choose or take as one’s own. It can also mean to accept something or vote to approve it. In all cases, adoption is the act or process of adopting, or the state of having adopted.

To adopt a tradition or religion is to make it one’s own. To adopt a plan is to approve it and act according to its steps. Similarly, to adopt a law is to formally vote to approve it and take steps to follow and enforce it.

Example: We’ve found an agency that will help us to adopt.

Where does adopt come from?

The first records of the word adopt come from the 1300s. It comes from the Latin verb adoptāre, meaning “to choose for oneself,” from optāre, “to choose.”

Adoption of children is often pursued by people who are unable or who choose not to have biological children, but it can also involve families with their own children adopting other children into the family. A child can also be adopted by a relative, such as an aunt, uncle, or grandparent. The adjective adoptive can mean “involving adoption” or “related by adoption,” as in my adoptive family. A person who has been adopted can be referred to as an adoptee. More commonly, such a person may identify as adopted, as in I’m adopted, but I’ve met my birth mother and keep in touch with her.

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How is adopt used in real life?

Adopt is commonly used in the context of the adoption of children as well as in its general senses.


Try using adopt!

Is adopt used correctly in the following sentence?

We plan to adopt the new plan next quarter.

How to use adopt in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for adopt

/ (əˈdɒpt) /

verb (tr)
law to bring (a person) into a specific relationship, esp to take (another's child) as one's own child
to choose and follow (a plan, technique, etc)
to take over (an idea, etc) as if it were one's own
to take on; assumeto adopt a title
to accept (a report, etc)

Derived forms of adopt

adoptee, nounadopter, nounadoption, noun

Word Origin for adopt

C16: from Latin adoptāre to choose for oneself, from optāre to choose
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