from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To take into one's family through legal means and raise as one's own child.
  • transitive v. To take and follow (a course of action, for example) by choice or assent: adopt a new technique.
  • transitive v. To take up and make one's own: adopt a new idea.
  • transitive v. To take on or assume: adopted an air of importance.
  • transitive v. To vote to accept: adopt a resolution.
  • transitive v. To choose as standard or required in a course: adopt a new line of English textbooks.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To take by choice into relationship, as, child, heir, friend, citizen, etc.
  • v. To take voluntarily (a child of other parents) to be in the place of, or as, one's own child.
  • v. To obtain (a pet) from a shelter or the wild.
  • v. To take by choice into the scope of one's responsibility.
  • v. To take or receive as one's own what is not so naturally.
  • v. To select and take or approve.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To take by choice into relationship, as, child, heir, friend, citizen, etc.; esp. to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) to be in the place of, or as, one's own child.
  • transitive v. To take or receive as one's own what is not so naturally; to select and take or approve

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To choose for or take to one's self; make one's own by selection or assent; receive or agree to as a personal belonging or opinion: as, to adopt a name or an idea; an adopted citizen or country; the meeting adopted the resolution.
  • Specifically, to admit into a relation of affiliation; confer the rights or privileges of kinship upon, as one who is not naturally related or connected; especially, to receive and treat as a child or member of one's family, etc.: as, the orphans were adopted by friends. See adoption, 2. To take or receive into any kind of new relationship: as, to adopt a person as an heir, or as a friend, guide, or example.
  • In euchre, to play with the suit turned up for trumps: a privilege of the dealer.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. put into dramatic form
  • v. choose and follow; as of theories, ideas, policies, strategies or plans
  • v. take up the cause, ideology, practice, method, of someone and use it as one's own
  • v. take on a certain form, attribute, or aspect
  • v. take up and practice as one's own
  • v. take on titles, offices, duties, responsibilities
  • v. take into one's family


Middle English adopten, from Old French adopter, from Latin adoptāre : ad-, ad- + optāre, to choose.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle French adopter, from Latin adoptare; ad + optare ("to choose, desire"). (Wiktionary)


  • So that it cannot be denied that we may treat the Rebel States as _enemies_, and adopt all measures against them _which any belligerents engaged in a just war may adopt_.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 12, No. 70, August, 1863

  • Are not the United States now _free_ to adopt such measures as an independent nation may _justly adopt_ in defense of its _rights and honor_?

    Stephen A. Douglas A Study in American Politics

  • Before long, the two adopt a code word for "all things romantic": dowsing, borrowed from a barely coherent rant by Vanessa's alcoholic mother about her family's gift for finding water underground.

    In the Desert, Prime Time

  • The spirit we ought to adopt is to look for the best, and not for faults and failings.

    International Peace and Good Will

  • Much of the book is dull: and Fathom's conversation is (to adopt a cant word) extremely unconvincing.

    The English Novel

  • Why would we adopt a Latin word meaning baby to describe what we already know is a baby in formation?


  • I can only imagine that it might be heightened if one was to adopt from a country like Guatemala or India where baby stealing is alleged if not proven in a handful of cases.

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • Failing that, they'll imply that the only reason gays and lesbians want to adopt is so we can recruit more kids into the Radical Homosexual Agenda, which presumably includes hard-core redecorating and secular-humanist brunching.

    Family Values

  • The plainness that many NOB women adopt is viewed by city women here as somewhat odd.

    how to "pass" for a Mexican

  • Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340, 335 (1987) (“The standard of reasonableness we adopt is an objective one; the standard does not turn on the subjective good faith of individual officers.”)

    The Volokh Conspiracy » The Good Faith Exception and Changing Law: Misunderstanding “Good Faith”


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