c. 1600, "action of adapting (something to something else)," from French adaptation, from Late Latin adaptationem (nominative adaptatio), noun of action from past participle stem of adaptare "to adjust" (see adapt). Meaning "condition of being adapted, state of being fitted to circumstances or relations" is from 1670s. Sense of "modification of a thing to suit new conditions" is from 1790. Biological sense "variations in a living thing to suit changed conditions" first recorded 1859 in Darwin's writings.
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