My friend told me that it’s better to rescue a stray cat than to adopt one from the shelter in this weather. Domesticated cats don’t adapt to a changing weather very well, especially to a rainy spell.

The words adopt and adapt are orthographic neighbors, meaning they differ from each other by a single letter modification. The words do not sound alike; however, they can be erringly swapped owing to the range of meaning and use of each word.

Adopt and adapt have Latin roots. Adapt comes from Latin ‘ad’ and ‘aptus’, collectively meaning ‘to fit’. Thus, adapt deals with the idea of changing or fitting something or someone accordingly. Therefore, whenever a person, thing, or place goes through a modification or change to better suit itself, it adapts or is adapted. For instance, adapting a story to suit the readers or adapting oneself to the weather.

Similarly, adopt can be traced back to Latin ‘ad’ and ‘optare’, collectively meaning ‘to choose’. Hence, the word ‘adopt’ deals with the idea of choosing, acquiring, or obtaining. So, whenever a noun, especially a living person or animal, is acquired voluntarily, the living person, persons, or animals are adopted. We insist that you keep reading till the end to gain more clarity on the subject; you’ll adapt in no time!

Adopt vs adapt — definition, uses, and example sentences

Definition of adopt

Adopt is pronounced ‘uh-dopt’ and is rather easy to pronounce. It is a transitive verb and refers to the action of voluntarily taking someone, for instance, a cat, a friend, or a child, into a relationship. It is defined as consensually bringing a person, an animal, or an entity like a child/friend, a pet, or a family respectively into ones custody. It can also be used to refer to the ownership of a different identity or part of an identity, for instance adopting a new name or a new hairstyle. Lastly, it is also commonly used to denote the establishment and approval or installment of new ideals or views in ones mind or institution, for instance adopting an ideology or a resolution. The present participle of the word ‘adopt’ is adopting whereas the past and past participle is adopted.

Example sentences of adopt:

  • The doctor told the husband that his tests reveal an unlikely chance of fertility; although he may not have children, he can always adopt one.

In this sentence, adopt is used in the meaning of taking a child into ones custody as their own. The child adopted or to be adopted is called an adoptee.

  • He had adopted a completely new look; I could barely recognize him with his new hairstyle and a thick mustache.

Here, ‘adopt’ is used in the meaning of obtaining a new identity or part of identity. The adopted part of identity is the subject’s new look which has redefined his face.

  • After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the post-war state of Turkey ultimately adopted a republic constitution.

In this sentence, ‘adopt’ is used in the past participle and refers to the selection or establishment of new ideals for oneself. The subject, Turkey, established or adopted the new ideals of a republican constitution.

Definition of adapt

The pronunciation of adapt may be confused with ‘adopt’ in speaking; however, it is pronounced ‘uh-dapt’ with a clear ‘a’ sound. It is a verb and used both transitively and intransitively. ‘To adapt’ means to make something more suitable or fitting for something or someone else. It is defined as the action of customizing or getting accustomed to something or someone or vice versa to improve correspondence. For instance, adapting a story to suit the article or adapting to a new location. It is also used to describe the alteration of a text or play to deem it suitable for stage, cinema, or broadcast. The present participle of adapt is adapting whereas the past and past participle is adapted.

Example sentences of adapt:

  • Natural Selection and the Theory of Evolution can be used to explain that animals who could not adapt to the changing Earth perished.

In this sentence, adapt refers to the meaning of getting accustomed to new or changing environments, especially those that are difficult for survival.

  • Scientists across the globe are urging healthcare policymakers to adapt to emerging risks of deadly epidemics.

Here, adapt is used in the meaning of changing for better suitability. The healthcare sector must adapt to the emerging risks.

  • The controversial Bollywood movie Haider is adapted from Shakespeare’s famous play Hamlet.

Lastly, adapt is used in the past participle and refers to remodeling a piece of literature (Hamlet) for film or television (Haider).


Adopt and adapt are words that differ in spelling owing to the replacement of their central vowel. Adopt is used for the purpose of receiving someone or something into ones care with consent. Thus, it is a verb that deals with the idea of ‘obtaining’. The o of obtaining can be linked with the ‘o’ in ‘adopt’ as a mnemonic. On the contrary, adapt is used to mean ‘adjust.’ Thus, it is a verb that carries the notion of change or alteration. The ‘a’ in adapt can be referenced with the ‘a’ in ‘adjust’ or ‘alteration’ as a mnemonic. In plain words, when you welcome a new person, animal, identity, or view in your life, you adopt them. Whereas, when you change something or someone to make it more compatible or suitable to another thing or person, you adapt to them!