of or involving adoption.
acquired or related by adoption: an adoptive father or son.
tending to adopt.

Origin of adoptive

1400–50; < Latin adoptīvus; see adopt, -ive; replacing late Middle English adoptife < Middle French adoptif
Related formsa·dop·tive·ly, adverbun·a·dop·tive, adjectiveun·a·dop·tive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedadaptive adoptiveadopted 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for adoptive

Contemporary Examples of adoptive

Historical Examples of adoptive

  • 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 adoptionan adoptive father
of or relating to adoptionCompare 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

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