What is the difference between "conform" and "adapt"?

Could you clarify the words' meaning and usage with examples?

First, let's look at the Cambridge dictionary's definition:


to behave according to the usual standards of behavior that are expected by a group or society


to change, or to change something, to suit different conditions or uses

What I understand from the difference between these words is that adapting is changing our behavior/thought/attitude to suit a new environment (maybe permanent change), but conforming is just following the new environment's rules.

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1 Answer 1


Conform, as your dictionary says, usually means to follow the standards of behaviour that are accepted as normal in the society in which you live. An example of not conforming would be to wear casual clothes to work when everyone else wears formal business attire.

To adapt is to change yourself or your behaviour, for instance a plant or animal adapting to the changing climate. If you are used to dressing smartly for work and you get a new job with a firm where employees dress casually, you need to adapt your style of dress in order to conform with your new colleagues!

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