Adapter vs. adaptor – which one is correct?

There are lots of similarly spelled words in the English language. Sometimes, they differ in meaning. Other times, they mean the same thing and the choice of word is a personal preference. It happens that one form is preferred over the other one in specific circumstances. What does it look like in the case of adapter and adaptor? What’s the preferred spelling of this word? Is there any?

Adapter vs. adaptor Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

Adapter vs. adaptor – which form is correct?

Both adapter and adaptor are correct forms. These two words can be used interchangeably in all varieties of English. In fact, they can be used synonymously in all contexts without fear that someone will misunderstand you. Either use adaptor or adapter, the examiner won’t deduct your marks on an English test. 🙂

Adaptor vs. adapter – what’s the meaning of these words?

The word adaptor came from the word adapt, which in turn came from the word adaptatus, borrowed from Middle French. The first meaning of adapter and adaptor is an electrical device which helps normally incompatible devices function together. The second meaning is a person who adapts to new conditions. And finally, the third definition of adaptor/adapter is someone who adapts any work of art from a different medium or style.

Adapter vs. adaptor – what’s the difference between them?

There is a letter “o” in the middle of the word adaptor and there’s a letter “e” in the middle of the word adapter. The latter is a bit more common spelling, especially in the context of a person. Some people say that adaptor is used more often in the context of a mechanical device. However, we shouldn’t be looking at this as a rule.

If we want to rely on US dictionaries, the spelling adapter is much more common in American English than in British English. But let’s not use adapter as the American form and adaptor as the British form. Despite everything, it’s worth keeping in mind that the whole English speaking world can use adapter and adaptor interchangeably!

What are the synonyms of the words adapter and adaptor?

  • Connection,
  • clamp,
  • bond,
  • coupling,
  • link.

Adapter vs. adaptor – it’s all clear! Examples from the press

To succeed, the adapter must embrace the advantages and the limitations of the new medium, she said.

Los Angeles Times, Jan 19, 2017

The witch with her magic wand may as well be David Lynch, the adapter, descending from the sky to give the story a happy ending.

The Guardian, Apr 6, 2013

The plays were a very different story: I worked with the adaptor for 10 drafts.

The Washington Post, Apr 3, 2015

Unlike a writer who works on an original screenplay with blank canvas, the role of an adaptor is complex, particularly when the source material is held in such high regard.

BBC, Apr 24, 2022

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Graduate of English philology. Currently a student of internet marketing. She previously worked as a shopping assistant, associate consultant and kindergarten English teacher. Currently working as a copywriter. Privately mother of two children. Loves reading books and spending time actively.