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From Middle French adopter, from Latin adoptō; ad +‎ optō (to choose, desire), equivalent to ad- +‎ opt.



adopt (third-person singular simple present adopts, present participle adopting, simple past and past participle adopted) (transitive)

  1. To take (a child, heir, friend, citizen, etc.) by choice into a relationship.
    1. To take voluntarily (a child of other parents) to be in the place of, or as, one's own child.
      A friend of mine recently adopted a Chinese baby girl found on the streets of Beijing.
    2. To obtain (a pet) from a shelter or the wild.
      We're going to adopt a Dalmatian.
    3. To take by choice into the scope of one's responsibility.
      This supermarket chain adopts several families every Yuletide, providing them with money and groceries for the holidays.
      • 2020 December 30, Paul Stephen, “Chirk station is truly blooming”, in Rail, page 49:
        Sixteen years ago, the station entered into a new chapter when it was adopted by the Friends of Chirk Station (FoCS) volunteer group, under the Arriva Trains Wales Station Adopters programme.
  2. To take or receive as one's own what is not so naturally.
    He adopted a new look in order to fit in with his new workmates.
    • 2014 November 14, Blake Bailey, “'Tennessee Williams,' by John Lahr [print version: Theatrical victory of art over life, International New York Times, 18 November 2014, p. 13]”, in The New York Times[1]:
      [S]he [Edwina, mother of Tennessee Williams] was indeed Amanda [Wingfield, character in Williams' play The Glass Menagerie] in the flesh: a doughty chatterbox from Ohio who adopted the manner of a Southern belle and eschewed both drink and sex to the greatest extent possible.
  3. To select and take or approve.
    to adopt the view or policy of another
    These are resolutions that were adopted.
  4. (chess, slang) To beat an opponent ten times in a row.
    The match was not even close; the IM made amateurish blunders and ended up getting adopted.
    • 2018 June 19, Peter Doggers, “(title)”, in[3], archived from the original on 2022-05-21:
      Nakamura 'Adopts' Komodo On Fathers Day: 20.5-2.5
    • 2020 May 27, “Adopt-A-Danny Returns Wednesday With Ian Nepomniachtchi”, in[4], archived from the original on 2020-05-27:
      Wednesday's event will offer the Russian grandmaster three opportunities to adopt Rensch, though just like in the Speed Chess Championship, Nepomniachtchi will have to race against the clock.
    • 2022 April 12, Jacob Sweet, “The Most Popular Chess Streamer on Twitch”, in The New Yorker[5], archived from the original on 2022-08-26:
      "That's it, that's it!" the Grandmaster Eric Hansen bellowed after following nine straight losses with a win. "You are not adopting me! Not today, not today!"
    • 2022 December 7, Colin McGourty, “Carlsen plays "horribly", beats Gukesh 23:7”, in chess24[6], archived from the original on 2022-12-09:
      There was wasn't much for Gukesh fans to cheer, but at least he avoided the fate of Maghsoodloo, who was "adopted", i.e. beaten 10 games in a row. Gukesh struck in the 2nd 3+1 game, when he was dangerously close to that mark.

Usage notes[edit]

In the sense of taking a child into one's family, Modern English makes a distinction between fostering (which is implied to be temporary or informal) and adopting (which is permanent and makes the child legally recognized as part of the family). In older usage the two terms were more interchangeable.


Related terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.





  1. first-person singular present indicative/subjunctive of adopta