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[mal-uh-dap-tiv] /ˌmæl əˈdæp tɪv/
of, relating to, or characterized by maladaptation or incomplete, inadequate, or faulty adaptation:
The maladaptive behavior of isolated children was difficult to change.
Origin of maladaptive
1930-35; mal- + adaptive Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for maladaptive
  • As part of its capacity for achievement, it must also be able to exercise control that stops maladaptive behavior.
  • It certainly is physically maladaptive in current times without significant cultural enhancement.
  • We all have to work harder at certain things or try to rein in our maladaptive behaviors when necessary.
  • Evolution has given us instinctual responses that are maladaptive in our present context.
  • First of all, thick subcutaneous fat is maladaptive in an arid environment but highly adaptive in a coastal marine environment.
  • Truly, truly maladaptive, as it only makes for more isolation.
  • Such behavior is capriciously dismissed with the explanation that it is maladaptive, and therefore has simply failed to evolve.
British Dictionary definitions for maladaptive


unsuitably adapted or adapting poorly to (a situation, purpose, etc)
not encouraging adaptation
Derived Forms
maladapted, adjective
maladaptively, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for maladaptive

1912, from mal- + adaptive (see adapt).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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