ex·​tem·​po·​ra·​ne·​ous (ˌ)ek-ˌstem-pə-ˈrā-nē-əs How to pronounce extemporaneous (audio)
: composed, performed, or uttered on the spur of the moment : impromptu
an extemporaneous comment
: carefully prepared but delivered without notes or text
: skilled at or given to extemporaneous utterance
: happening suddenly and often unexpectedly and usually without clearly known causes or relationships
a great deal of criminal and delinquent behavior is … extemporaneous W. C. Reckless
: provided, made, or put to use as an expedient : makeshift
an extemporaneous shelter
extemporaneously adverb
extemporaneousness noun

Did you know?

Extemporaneous, which comes from Latin ex tempore ("out of the time"), joined the English language sometime in the mid-17th century. The word impromptu was improvised soon after that. In general usage, extemporaneous and impromptu are used interchangeably to describe off-the-cuff remarks or speeches, but this is not the case when they are used in reference to the learned art of public speaking. Teachers of speech will tell you that an extemporaneous speech is one that has been thoroughly prepared and planned but not memorized, whereas an impromptu speech is one for which absolutely no preparations have been made.

Example Sentences

caught by surprise, I had to make an extemporaneous speech at the awards banquet
Recent Examples on the Web Teammates Rory Rohde and Will Allen tied after seven grueling debates and were declared by the judges as co-state champions in extemporaneous debate. Ed Wittenberg, cleveland, 17 Mar. 2022 The president’s extemporaneous comments repeatedly have created problems for his administration. Philip Klein, National Review, 10 Apr. 2022 Biden’s extemporaneous words could have unintended consequences. Edward Segal, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2022 In the Power of the Pen regional tournament, 7th and 8th grade students competed in a series of extemporaneous rounds of creative writing tasks, each in response to an open-ended prompt. cleveland, 25 Mar. 2022 His address lasted only 18 minutes — not a long-winded, extemporaneous marathon that is his style. George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2022 In one such chapter, Fowler describes Lincoln’s forceful, extemporaneous speech against slavery at the 1856 convention where the Republican Party was being formed. Heller Mcalpin, The Christian Science Monitor, 7 Mar. 2022 In the Power of the Pen district tournament, seventh- and eighth-grade students competed in a series of extemporaneous rounds of creative writing tasks, each in response to an open-ended prompt. cleveland, 18 Feb. 2022 Extremely well-read, knowledgeable and an excellent extemporaneous public speaker as a three-term New Hampshire governor in the 1970s, my father had lost the power to generate speech. WSJ, 8 July 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'extemporaneous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Late Latin extemporaneus, from Latin ex tempore

First Known Use

1673, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

Time Traveler
The first known use of extemporaneous was in 1673


Dictionary Entries Near extemporaneous

Cite this Entry

“Extemporaneous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/extemporaneous. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



ex·​tem·​po·​ra·​ne·​ous (ˌ)ek-ˌstem-pə-ˈrā-nē-əs How to pronounce extemporaneous (audio)
: made up or done on the spur of the moment : impromptu
extemporaneously adverb
extemporaneousness noun

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