adapt

Say you move to a country where everyone cooks with lots of hot peppers. At first the food scalds your tongue, but over time you adapt — you change in a way that allows you to deal with the new circumstances.

Adapt comes from the ancient word ap, which means "take" or "grasp." Ap is even older than Latin — it comes from a lost language that was spoken by the common ancestors of modern-day Indians and Europeans and has since been reconstructed by linguists, who named it the Proto-Indo-European language, or PIE. So what does adapt have to do with grasp? If you adapt to, say, a new country, it's as though you're grabbing hold of its strange, slippery customs.

Definitions of adapt
  1. verb
    make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose
    Adapt our native cuisine to the available food resources of the new country”
    synonyms: accommodate
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    types:
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    adjust
    make correspondent or conformable
    gear, pitch
    set the level or character of
    fit
    insert or adjust several objects or people
    anglicise, anglicize
    make English in appearance
    shoehorn
    fit for a specific purpose even when not well suited
    orient, tailor
    adjust to a specific need or market
    domesticate, tame
    make fit for cultivation, domestic life, and service to humans
    cultivate, domesticate, naturalise, naturalize, tame
    adapt (a wild plant or unclaimed land) to the environment
    Christianise, Christianize
    adapt in the name of Christianity
    naturalise, naturalize
    adopt to another place
    electrify, wire
    equip for use with electricity
    transcribe
    rewrite or arrange a piece of music for an instrument or medium other than that originally intended
    repurpose
    adapt for a new use or format
    popularise, popularize
    make understandable to the general public
    type of:
    alter, change, vary
    become different in some particular way, without permanently losing one's or its former characteristics or essence
  2. verb
    adapt or conform oneself to new or different conditions
    synonyms: adjust, conform
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    types:
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    readapt, readjust
    adjust anew
    readapt
    adapt anew
    assimilate
    become similar to one's environment
    focalise, focalize, focus
    become focussed or come into focus
    acclimate, acclimatise, acclimatize
    get used to a certain climate
    match
    be equal or harmonize
    obey
    be obedient to
    square
    cause to match, as of ideas or acts
    acculturate
    assimilate culturally
    abide by, comply, follow
    act in accordance with someone's rules, commands, or wishes
    take orders
    receive and be expected to follow directions or commands
    heed, listen, mind
    pay close attention to; give heed to
    type of:
    change
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
Commonly confused words

adopt / adapt

"Adopt, adapt, and improve," says the thief in a Monty Python skit when he robs a lingerie shop instead of a bank. Adopt is to take something over, and to adapt is to change something to suit your needs. It’s helpful advice when you ask for money and get a pair of granny panties.

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