We often see a screenplay noted to be “loosely based” on a novel or true story. This usually means significant portions of the story, or major plot turns, have been rewritten. Sometimes even major characters are dropped or added.

What is the opposite of that phrase, something that mostly has fidelity to the original but may differ is some relatively minor points?

To be used in a context where we want to provide disclosure about imperfect fidelity, but we do not want to draw too much attention or be overly dramatic about the differences.

I thought of “closely based”, but that does not sound right.

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    "Closely based" is fine. Otherwise add an adverb: "somewhat strictly based" and so on. – Robusto Jan 30 '19 at 20:03
  • How about "strictly-based"? – GEdgar Mar 1 '19 at 21:48
  • Accurate screen version. I know another language that has a specific term for movie version of a novel or story, but I don't think English has such a word. – Rusty Core Mar 1 '19 at 23:14
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    'Something that mostly has fidelity to the original but may differ is some relatively minor points' is simply based on the original. The phrase loosely based exists precisely because based by itself, without any qualification, has that meaning. – jsw29 Mar 2 '19 at 4:48
  • '... well and truly based' – Edwin Ashworth Jul 31 '19 at 16:30

"Faithfully" comes to mind. As in "faithfully adheres to the events of the original text," etc.

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    faithfully, in my mind, allows for no deviation. OP wants to disclose imperfect fidelity. – Jim Jan 30 '19 at 22:40

Simply say that a screenplay was adapted from a book:

adapt, tr.v: to change a book or play so that it can be made into a movie, TV program, etc. [MacMillan]

This encompasses any minor changes necessary to accommodate the different ways that books and movies tell stories.

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    That would also apply where major changes have been made. – nnnnnn Jul 30 '19 at 7:03
  • As nnnnnn commented, this does not really address the Question. The word "adapted" as used in the movie business can mean any amount of faithfulness or faithlessness with regard to the original material. – Basil Bourque Jul 31 '19 at 16:46

For maybe not what you are directly calling, I submit that a good antonym to "loosely based" would be the phrase rooted in

rooted in formed, made, or developed by using (something) as a basis.

"This approach is rooted in the popular Keynesian economic models of the later 20th and early 21st centuries"

"His criticism is rooted in truth, and that's what makes it so much more meaningful"

A direct antonym to your example would just be simply "based on" , in my opinion. That implies "something that mostly has fidelity to the original but may differ is some relatively minor points". The base on which the story is predicated is the same/true.


Taut, tense, tight are antonymous of loose.

tightly TDF

Marked by full control over elements; firm:

Of these:

The screenplay x has tightly adhered to the original story/book/etc with variations of relatively minor points.

fits nicely.

And as in:

X is a classic example of a lean, tight script of her novel.

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