Difference Between Adapt and Adopt

Key Difference – Adapt vs Adopt

Although the two verbs adapt and adopt share similar spellings and pronunciations, they have different totally different meanings. The key difference between adapt and adopt lies in their meaning; adapt means to make something suitable for a new use or purpose whereas adopt means to take something and accept it as one’s own.

What Does Adapt Mean?

Adapt basically has two meanings. These meanings depend on the grammatical structure of the verb. Adapt can be used as a both transitive verb and an intransitive verb. When used as a transitive verb, adapt means to make something suitable for a new use or purpose. When you adapt something, you modify it to suit your needs. For example,

A policy cannot be adapted to suit individual needs.

She adapted the curriculum to suit the elementary students.

The building’s kitchen and storage area were adapted for administrative purposes.

The watch was adapted for underwater use.

When adapt is used as an intransitive verb, it means to adjust oneself to a new conditions or  situation.

The children soon adapted to the new environment.

The whole company had to adapt to the new management.

She adapted to new school fairly well.

It takes time to adapt to a new culture.

Adapt also means to alter something to make it suitable for filming or broadcasting.

The film was adapted from a Norwegian folktale.

Key Difference - Adapt vs Adopt

It took them no time to adapt to the new culture.

What Does Adopt Mean?

Adopt comes from the Latin adoptare which means ‘to take by choice’ or ‘choose by oneself.’  Adopt usually means to take and accept something as one’s own. This verb is usually used in relation to adoption; in this context, adopt means to legally take another’s child and bring him up as one’s own. However, the meaning of adopt can change according to different contexts.

Bringing up another’s child as one’s own:

The old childless couple wanted to adopt a child.

People don’t like to adopt teenagers.

Choose to take up or follow a concept, an idea or a course of action

They are adopting a new method for this test.

The administration decided to adopt strict and rigorous policies.

They have adopted some local customs.

Choose and move to another city or place:

Although he was born in England, he has adopted India as his home.

She moved to Australia in the 70s and adopted it as their home.

Assume an attitude or position

If you don’t adopt a positive attitude, you are going to lose this job.

She has adopted a friendly tone.

As seen from these example sentences, adopt is mainly used as a transitive verb.

Difference Between Adapt and Adopt

What is the Difference between Adapt and Adopt?


Adapt means to make something suitable for a new use, purpose or situation.

Adopt means to take up or accept something as your own.

Verb Type:

Adapt can be used as both transitive and intransitive verbs.

Adopt is used with transitive verbs.

 Image Courtesy:
“Adoption 2″ By Hitsuji Kinno at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia