Correct Idioms: Early Adapter

Folks, please, don't make the mistake that one head of marketing at Sierra I used to know did (and fought me tooth and nail on it, insisting that they were correct), and call the people you're relying on to buy your product early in the game early adapters.

The phrase you are looking for is early adopter. Note the 'O'. This is someone who is part of the first vanguard of people to ever use a new thing. They adopt the thing early on. (Adopt meaning "to take up and practice as one's own").

An early adapter, however, is someone who takes something early on, and like McGuyver or the A-Team, adapts it to their own nefarious purposes. This usually involves and/or incorporates duct tape somewhere in the process, a pocket-knife, and potentially a Sharpie permanent marker.

Big difference.

Similarly, one I saw today was regarding people doing things on mass. People, it's French. en masse - as in, in a large group. At least with this one, there's always the excuse that it's written in a completely different language.

About the author

Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.

The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).

Archived Wordpress comments
Anonymous wrote on Monday, November 28, 2005:

sept 2004 and still lots of early adapters to find on the internet…
And i support the statement, some people seem to thinks it’s the right phrase…
Please use EARLY ADOPTER instead…

Anonymous wrote on Thursday, January 12, 2006:

what if the “adaption” isn’t supposed to be applied to the adopted process or gadget or whatever, but to the person adapting? As in: “I am adapting my style, myself, whatever, to/in the current fashion”. would that be a possible explanation?

Anonymous wrote on Wednesday, October 8, 2008:

How about those that say, “and walla your done” instead of “and voila…”

bint alshamsa wrote on Sunday, March 15, 2009:

That “walla” thing really bothers me! Argh!!

Chris wrote on Thursday, August 16, 2012:

I was an early adopter of “voila” but everybody got it wrong. I’ve adapted and use “badda-bing-badda-boom” instead.

Correcting Myself: Early Adapter vs. Early Adopter wrote on Thursday, December 5, 2013:

[…] I did it again: early adapter, early adopter, damn! I hate it when that happens. In my last post, I called myself an early adapter but should have written early adopter. So, under the premise that if literate good-speller/good-writer me makes this mistake, then others must, here’s a correction and clarification from Simon Cooke at Accidental Scientist: […]

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