Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


1. the process of making a child legally part of your family, or an instance of this

2. the decision to use or accept a particular idea, method, law, or attitude

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun adoption is a borrowing from words in French and Latin. It was first used in English in the mid 14th century. The verb adopt came into use almost a century later.


This is National Adoption Week in the UK and this year’s focus is on the adopters. There is currently a huge disparity between the number of children awaiting adoption in England (over 4000) and the number of families that have been approved as adopters and are waiting to be matched with a child or children (around 1700). So part of the week’s purpose is to raise awareness of the joys and challenges of adoption and encourage more potential adopters to come forward. In addition to meaning someone who adopts a child, the term adopter also refers to someone who starts to use new technology, products or ways of doing things. An early adopter is someone who embraces new things at the earliest opportunity, while a late adopter is someone who waits to see how new products, ideas and gizmos bed in before starting to use them.


Adoption is not about finding children for families, but about finding families for children.”
(Joyce Maguire Pavao)

Related words

adoptive, adopter, foster, looked-after

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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