Adaption vs. Adaptation – What’s the Difference?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

When I first got into screenwriting, I spent some time apprenticing with book-to-film adaptations. But I always called it adaptions all my life, without realizing that both were two completely different words with separate meanings. So, I’m going to explain the difference between adaption vs. adaptation, so you don’t make the same mistake I did.

Adaption vs. Adaptation

Adaption vs. Adaption Ngram
Adaption and adaptation usage trend.

Even to native English speakers, it’s funny how two words like adaption and adaptation can look similar but be worlds apart in meaning. One is an adaption in biology, and the other is the process of updating something.

Adaption Definition Explained

The word adaption comes from the process of adjusting or becoming accustomed to a new environment or situation. Like how a polar bear’s thick fur is an adaption to the cold climate.

What’s an Adaptation?

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We all know this by now; Hollywood has flooded the entertainment market with adaptations. But what does it mean? The term refers to the process of making something suitable for a particular purpose or use like T.V. and movies. The movie The Lovely Bones was an adaptation of the bestselling novel, for instance.

Another example of adaptation is in the field of technology, where software has been adapted to work on a new operating system. This basically means that software engineers have changed systems to meet requirements for new tech. Like when your computer does an update; it’s being adapted to run with, say, the new Windows.

I will say, though, that I find adaption is mainly used in the context of biology and natural science, while adaptation is used in a broader sense, including literature, technology, and culture.

Adaptation in Biology

Like adaption, adaptation is also applied to biology when plants or animals change in order to survive in their environment. Like how, over time, certain species can actually change from being carnivores to herbivores and vice versa.

Examples of Adaption in a Sentence

  • A giraffe’s long neck is an adaption that allows it to reach tall trees for food.
  • An ability to sense electrical fields is an adaption that helps sharks locate prey.
  • The polar bear’s thick fur is an adaption to the extreme cold temperatures in the Arctic.
  • A desert tortoise’s ability to survive without water for long periods is an adaption to its arid environment.
  • Bats have echolocation abilities which are an adaption that allows them to navigate and hunt in the dark.
  • The crocodile’s tough skin and powerful jaw muscles are adaption to survive in its harsh river and swamp habitat.
  • A kangaroo’s strong legs and tail are adaption for jumping and hopping across the Australian outback.
  • Cactus’ ability to store water is an adaption to the dry desert climate.
  • Hummingbirds’ rapid wing beats are an adaption for hovering and feeding on nectar.
  • The deep-sea fish’s bioluminescent organs are an adaption to the dimly lit depths of the ocean.

How to Use Adaptation in a Sentence

  • A new adaptation of the classic novel received rave reviews from critics.
  • Our company’s adaptation of the new software has been a huge success.
  • That actor’s adaptation of the character’s accent was spot-on.
  • The adaptation of the play for the screen was met with mixed reactions from audiences.
  • Our city’s adaptation to the rising sea levels has been a challenging process.
  • The chef’s adaptation of the traditional dish was a creative twist on the original recipe.
  • His school’s adaptation to the new curriculum has been a welcome change for students and teachers.
  • The museum’s adaptation of the exhibit for visually impaired visitors was highly praised.
  • Adaptations of the company’s operations to the changing market trends were crucial for its survival.
  • This plant used to only grow at high altitudes but has shown an adaptation to lower altitudes over time. 
  • The team’s adaptation to the new coach’s strategies led to an improvement in their performance.

How to Pronounce Adaptation

The correct way to say adaptation is “uh-dap-tay-shun” with the main emphasis on the first syllable.

Adapt to Good Spelling and Grammar

So, yes, adaption and adaptation may seem similar, but they have distinct meanings and uses. Adaption is when something has been changed by its environment. Adaptation is changing or updating something to make it better or more functional in a different setting. I hope that helps!