“No, no, the people who made that old Nicolas Cage movie got it wrong. The word is ADAPTION.”

A few days ago, I discovered a You Tube channel where the content creator kept using the word ‘adaption’ in place of ‘adaptation’. This started to drive me up the wall, so I looked into it and found out there have been English-speaking people substituting this word for adaptation since 1615.


“The earliest OED documentation of the verb adapt is dated 1531. The noun adaptation comes along in 1597, 18 years earlier than adaption (1615).

English has no verb “adaptate,” but the past participle stem of Latin adaptare (to fit, to adapt) is adaptat-. Adaptation came into English from French, with the extra syllable already in place. Adaption looks like a homegrown nominalization of the verb adapt.

The Google Ngram Viewer, which tracks the incidence of words in printed sources from 1800 to 2000, shows adaption running a distant second to adaptation during the entire period.

The OED has a brief entry for adaption, prefaced by the notation “Now nonstandard.”

Clearly, adaptation is the standard form of the word meaning, “an altered or amended version of a text, musical composition, etc., especially one adapted for filming, broadcasting, or production on the stage from a novel or similar literary source.”

But although adaptation is the preferred spelling, adaption is in use among English speakers in Canada, Australia, the UK, and the US”.

I’ve been alive nearly fifty years. I had never heard the word ‘adaption’ used EVER– not in books, not in films, not on television, in classrooms, in casual conversation, etc.– until I discovered this particular YouTuber’s channel, so I don’t believe the use of ‘adaption’ is as common as some on the internet might have us believe.

But it does make me wonder if, a few years down the road, “adaptation” won’t fall victim to a manufactured Mandela Effect.

“’Adaptation’? That’s not a real word. That’s never been a word, you poor crazy person, you. It’s always been ‘adaption’.”

Adaptation Panel Redux