You can adopt an air of nonchalance, a fake British accent, or even a stray dog. When you adopt something, you consciously select it and accept it as your own.

The word adopt has many different shades of meaning, but most relate to the notion of taking something on and treating it as if it’s your own. You’re probably familiar with what happens if you adopt a child: you take on parental responsibilities and accept the child as if it’s your own. You can adopt other things — such as a plan, a method, or a point of view — in a similar way. For example, when you adopt a particular attitude — such as a respectful attitude — you select that as a way to present yourself and behave as if it is natural.

Definitions of adopt
  1. verb
    take into one's family
    “They adopted two children from Nicaragua”
    synonyms: take in
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    type of:
    take into one's possession
  2. verb
    choose and follow; as of theories, ideas, policies, strategies or plans
    synonyms: espouse, follow
    abide by, comply, follow
    act in accordance with someone's rules, commands, or wishes
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    adhere, stick
    be a devoted follower or supporter
    type of:
    choose, pick out, select, take
    pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives
  3. verb
    take up and practice as one's own
    synonyms: borrow, take over, take up
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    type of:
    accept, have, take
    receive willingly something given or offered
  4. verb
    take up the cause, ideology, practice, method, of someone and use it as one's own
    “They adopted the Jewish faith”
    synonyms: embrace, espouse, sweep up
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    fasten on, hook on, latch on, seize on, take up
    type of:
    consider or hold as true
  5. verb
    take on a certain form, attribute, or aspect
    “he adopted an air of superiority”
    synonyms: acquire, assume, take, take on
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    take on again, as after a time lapse
    type of:
    undergo a change; become different in essence; losing one's or its original nature
  6. verb
    take on titles, offices, duties, responsibilities
    synonyms: assume, take on, take over
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    assume anew
    type of:
    take office
    assume an office, duty, or title
  7. verb
    put into dramatic form
    adopt a book for a screenplay”
    synonyms: dramatise, dramatize
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    type of:
    compose, indite, pen, write
    produce a literary work
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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