Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Prompted by the occasion rather than being planned in advance.
  • adjective Spoken, performed, done, or composed with little or no preparation; extemporaneous.
  • adverb With little or no preparation; extemporaneously.
  • noun Something, such as a speech, that is made or done extemporaneously.
  • noun Music A short composition, especially for the piano, performed in an offhand or extemporized style.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Prompt; offhand; extempore; extemporized for the occasion: as, an impromptu epigram.
  • noun Something said or written, played, etc., at the moment, or without previous study or preparation; an extemporaneous composition or performance.
  • noun In music: An extemporized composition; an improvisation.
  • noun A composition in irregular form, as if extemporized; a fantasia.
  • Offhand; without previous study or preparation: as, a verse written impromptu.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adverb Offhand; without previous study; extemporaneous; extempore.
  • noun Something made or done offhand, at the moment, or without previous study; an extemporaneous composition, address, or remark.
  • noun (Mus.) A piece composed or played at first thought; a composition in the style of an extempore piece.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Improvised; without prior preparation; extemporaneous; unplanned.
  • noun music a short musical composition for an informal occasion often with the character of improvisation and usually to be played solo.
  • noun any composition, musical or otherwise, that is created on the spot without preparation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an extemporaneous speech or remark
  • adverb without advance preparation
  • noun a short musical passage that seems to have been made spontaneously without advance preparation
  • adjective with little or no preparation or forethought

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French, from Latin in prōmptū, at hand : in, in; see in– + prōmptū, ablative of prōmptus, readiness, from past participle of prōmere, to bring forth; see prompt.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin imprōmptus ("not ready"), from im- + prōmptus ("ready, at hand").

Examples

  • They are resourceful people and impromptu is the mode of operation they most relish.

    5 To the River « Unknowing

  • Further away from the volcano, fears were rising that diseases could appear in impromptu refugee camps where scores of evacuees are now taking temporary shelter, unsure of when they might be able to return.

    Toll From Indonesia Tsunami, Volcano Reaches 441

  • They gather - loud, bronzed, and disgustingly smooth-skinned - in impromptu youth rallies, blocking pavements, filling buses and generally annoying the hell out of the locals.

    Weekend Wastrelry

  • He proceeded to give his entire response to the sex abuse question in English, impromptu fashion.

    CNN Transcript Apr 15, 2008

  • "What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Mr. Cheney said, in impromptu remarks at a fund-raising luncheon for a Republican Congressional candidate in Chicago.

    June 2006

  • In front of the little sundries store, Dona Lupe's, across from our house, people gather on the weekends to visit and sometimes engage in impromptu entertainment - I believe the tuba player participates actively in these little pick-up gigs.

    What about Joco?

  • I do not deal in impromptu speeches, and have but little belief in the impassioned orator who relies upon the stimulus of the moment; but I soon found that it would be better and wiser, and that, perhaps, I could more truly express my thought, if I were to write down what I meant, and what I meant to convey to you, upon the first part of this most important subject.

    Education and Empire Unity

  • The word impromptu is sufficiently self-explanatory, but it needs to be pointed out that this work of

    The Pianolist A Guide for Pianola Players

  • Nikki Haley flexed her political muscles Tuesday night when she called an impromptu press conference to insist that the Senate finish a bill that would create a new Department of Administration. ...

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

  • Nikki Haley flexed her political muscles Tuesday night when she called an impromptu press conference to insist that the Senate finish a bill that would create a new Department of Administration.

    The Full Feed from HuffingtonPost.com

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