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 … extemporaneousW. 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.

Examples of extemporaneous in a Sentence

caught by surprise, I had to make an extemporaneous speech at the awards banquet
Recent Examples on the Web The show lovingly conveys all the details of court society: the Noh performance by torchlight, the extemporaneous verse, the calligraphic stroke falling on a blank sheet of paper. Ryu Spaeth, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2024 His extemporaneous comments in the wake of the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial are another example. Jonathan Holloway, Foreign Affairs, 26 Jan. 2014 Hochul, a Democrat, made the extemporaneous comment Monday while being interviewed at a large business conference in California to discuss expanding economic opportunities in artificial intelligence for low-income communities. Anthony Izaguirre, Fortune, 7 May 2024 Biden used to be capable of extemporaneous belligerence. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 12 Feb. 2024 Some of that joy derives from spontaneous collaboration—think of the extemporaneous ball passing of the recent Golden State Warriors dynasty, or of the San Antonio Spurs a decade ago, or the Lakers and Celtics a couple of decades before that. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, 29 Dec. 2023 But this year, a generation born at the dawn of social media instead found themselves in an extemporaneous, occasionally chaotic, conversation led by one of their own. Tina Isaac-Goizé, Vogue, 15 Oct. 2023 Read full article Those comments appeared to deviate from his prepared remarks, which were released in a Vatican bulletin that did not mention the extemporaneous references to the two former Russian czars, who invaded parts of Ukraine in the 18th century. Gaia Pianigiani, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Aug. 2023 The concept has a history stretching back to at least the First Great Awakening in 18th-century New England, when crowds of newly fervent Protestants gathered to hear vivid extemporaneous sermons by pastors like Jonathan Edwards. Ruth Graham Jesse Barber, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'extemporaneous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Late Latin extemporāneus "done on the spur of the moment" (from Latin ex tempore "on the spur of the moment, extempore" + -āneus, suffix forming adjectives from temporal adverbs) + -ous

Note: Regarding the suffix -āneus see the etymology and note at spontaneous.

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 25 Jun. 2024.

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

More from Merriam-Webster on extemporaneous

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