AskDefine | Define adapt

Dictionary Definition



1 make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose; "Adapt our native cuisine to the available food resources of the new country" [syn: accommodate]
2 adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditions; "We must adjust to the bad economic situation" [syn: adjust, conform]

User Contributed Dictionary



From adapter


  • US: /ʌˈdæpt/
  • Rhymes: -æpt


  1. To make suitable; to make to correspond; to fit or suit; to proportion.
  2. To fit by alteration; to modify or remodel for a different purpose; to adjust: as, to adapt a story or a foreign play for the stage; to adapt an old machine to a new manufacture.
  3. To make by altering or fitting something else; to produce by change of form or character: as, to bring out a play adapted from the French; a word of an adapted form.


  1. Adapted; fit; suited; suitable.


adapted (adjective)
  • Albanian: adapt


Extensive Definition

An adaptation is a positive characteristic of an organism that has been favored by natural selection and increases the fitness of its possessor. Of course, an adaptation must have been adaptive at some point in an organism's evolutionary history, but such an organism's environment and ecological niche can change over time, leading to adaptations becoming redundant or even a hindrance (maladaptations). Such adaptations are termed vestigial.

Adaptation vs. acclimation

"Adaptation" is also sometimes used to refer to a change in an individual organism over the course of its life that makes it more suited to the environment. For an example, see Adaptation (eye). More specifically, however, such changes are referred to as acclimation or acclimatization, the former generally being a very short-term response such as shivering, the latter being a longer-term change such as sun tanning.
There is a great difference between selective adaptation and acclimatization. Adaptation occurs over many generations; it is a gradual process caused by natural selection. Acclimatization generally occurs within a single lifetime and copes with issues that are less threatening. For example, if a human was to move to a higher altitude, respiration and physical exertion would become a problem, but after spending time in high altitude conditions one may acclimate or acclimatize to the pressure and function and no longer notice the change. This ability to acclimate is an adaptation, but not the acclimatization itself. A counter-adaptation is an adaptation that has evolved due to the selective pressure of another adaptation. This occurs in an evolutionary arms race, where a new adaptation giving one species an advantage is countered by the appearance and spread of a new feature that reduces the effectiveness of the first adaptation.


The theory of adaptation was first put forth by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. His theories are also referred to as the inheritance of acquired traits.
Lamarck's theory was for a time held as an alternative scientific explanation for evolutionary change observed by Darwin in the The Origin of Species. The classic giraffe analogy offers the best delineation between the two.
  • According to Darwin, more long-necked giraffes reproduce than short-necked giraffes and as such giraffes today have long necks.
  • According to Lamarck, it was giraffes stretching their necks in response to higher leaves that resulted in giraffes having long necks. (This trait being passed on to the next generation)
Although neither theory in its conception could provide a complete description of the mechanism of transmission of trait variation (i.e., particulate inheritance), many recognized Darwin's theory immediately upon publication as a more complete and empirically supported theory. Modern genetics have since established the fundamental implausibility of Lamarckian inheritance, due to the one-way nature of transcription. However, see epigenetics and Baldwinian evolution for analogous processes in modern evolutionary.

See also


adapt in Arabic: تكيف
adapt in Bulgarian: Адаптация
adapt in Czech: Adaptace
adapt in Danish: Adaptation
adapt in German: Evolutionäre Anpassung
adapt in Estonian: Kohastumus
adapt in Spanish: Adaptación biológica
adapt in Esperanto: Adaptado
adapt in French: Adaptation (biologie)
adapt in Indonesian: Adaptasi
adapt in Italian: Adattamento
adapt in Hebrew: הסתגלות אבולוציונית
adapt in Lithuanian: Adaptacija
adapt in Hungarian: Adaptáció
adapt in Japanese: 適応
adapt in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tilpassing
adapt in Uzbek: Moslashish (biologiya)
adapt in Polish: Adaptacja (biologia)
adapt in Portuguese: Adaptação (biologia)
adapt in Russian: Адаптация (биология)
adapt in Serbian: Адаптација
adapt in Serbo-Croatian: Adaptacija
adapt in Finnish: Adaptaatio
adapt in Tajik: Адаптатсия
adapt in Ukrainian: Адаптація (біологія)
adapt in Chinese: 適應

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acclimate, acclimatize, accommodate, accommodate with, accord, accustom, adapt to, adjust, adjust to, agree with, alter, ameliorate, arrange, assimilate, assimilate to, attune, be guided by, bend, better, break, break in, break up, capacitate, case harden, change, chime in with, comply, comply with, compose, condition, confirm, conform, convert, coordinate, correct, correspond, cut to, deform, denature, discipline, diversify, domesticate, domesticize, enable, equalize, equip, establish, fall in with, familiarize, fashion, fit, fix, follow, furnish, gear to, gentle, go by, habituate, harden, harmonize, homologate, homologize, housebreak, improve, instrument, instrumentate, inure, key to, make an adaptation, make conform, make plumb, make uniform, measure, meet, meliorate, melodize, mitigate, modify, modulate, mold, musicalize, mutate, naturalize, observe, orchestrate, orient, orient the map, orientate, overthrow, proportion, put in trim, put in tune, put to music, quadrate, qualify, re-create, realign, rebuild, reconcile, reconstruct, rectify, redesign, refit, reform, regulate, remake, remodel, renew, reshape, restructure, revamp, revive, right, ring the changes, rub off corners, score, season, set, set right, set to music, settle, shape, shift the scene, shuffle the cards, similarize, square, straighten, subvert, suit, sync, synchronize, tailor, tally with, tame, temper, train, transcribe, transpose, trim to, true, true up, tune, turn the scale, turn the tables, turn the tide, turn upside down, vary, wont, work a change, worsen, write, yield
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