im·promp·tu | \ im-ˈpräm(p)-(ˌ)tü , -(ˌ)tyü \

Definition of impromptu 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something that is impromptu

2 : a musical composition suggesting improvisation



Definition of impromptu (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : made, done, or formed on or as if on the spur of the moment : improvised

2 : composed or uttered without previous preparation : extemporaneous

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from impromptu


impromptu adverb

Did You Know?


If you think that "impromptu" looks like a relative of "prompt," you're right; both are ultimately derived from the Latin promere, meaning "to bring forth, take out." "Impromptu" was borrowed from French, where it meant "extemporaneously," but French speakers picked it up from the Latin phrase in promptu, a "promere" descendant meaning "in readiness" or "at hand." There is also another, much rarer descendant of "promere" in English - the noun promptuary, meaning "a book of ready reference."

Examples of impromptu in a Sentence


although five different lines had been written, the best choice turned out to be an impromptu from the tired actor himself


Two of my friends came by unexpectedly, and we had an impromptu little party in my kitchen. He made an impromptu speech about honor and responsibility.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On Thursday, Trump arrived late to the official meetings, missed scheduled sit-downs with two allies on the margins of the summit, and skipped part of a session on the NATO mission in Afghanistan to hold the impromptu news conference. Jonathan Lemire And Jill Colvin, The Christian Science Monitor, "Trump claims NATO allies will up spending," 12 July 2018 Fellow passengers filmed the musical group's impromptu performance. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Mariachi band surprises Southwest passengers with mid-flight performance," 11 July 2018 After dancing his own rendition of the famous choreography Glover performs in the song's music video, Foxx even motioned for Glover to join him onstage, where Glover offered a flawless impromptu mini-performance of the track's opening lines. Tatiana Cirisano, Billboard, "Childish Gambino Performs an Impromptu Version of 'This Is America' at the 2018 BET Awards," 24 June 2018 Along the rest of their journey, James and the Beatles legend visited the famous barber shop on Penny Lane, toured Paul's childhood home, and stopped at local pub for an impromptu performance. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "Paul McCartney Brought James Corden to Tears During a Legendary 'Carpool Karaoke' Ride," 22 June 2018 In the Senate, Long holds an impromptu rules committee meeting on the floor of the Senate to advance a bill on driver-less vehicles. Staff whoop and cheer. 11:56 p.m.: Torr moves to adjourn the House Rules Committee. Arika Herron, Indianapolis Star, "'Worse than the sausage factory.' A minute-by-minute look at how the Indiana legislature came to a wild close," 16 Mar. 2018 That was the case in 2010, when an Orange County band enraged thousands of motorists by blocking the 101 Freeway in Hollywood to perform an impromptu concert on top of a truck. Joseph Serna,, "Publicity stunt triggers massive traffic jam in downtown L.A. as rap artist scales traffic sign," 27 June 2018 Worried about his early morning dad bus stop duties the following day, Grohl had planned his escape around 10:30, but after Sir Paul's impromptu jam session everyone looked to Dave to do his bit. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Foo Fighters Rip Through 'Best of You' on 'Late Late Show' in London: Watch," 22 June 2018 On our last night, an impromptu concert unfolded in the dining room as waiters began playing flutes, drums and an oud in honor of a passenger’s birthday. Tara Isabella Burton, WSJ, "A Nile Cruise With Retro-Glamour Appeal," 30 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of impromptu


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1764, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for impromptu


French, from impromptu extemporaneously, from Latin in promptu in readiness

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impromptu

Listen to Our Podcast about impromptu

Statistics for impromptu

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impromptu

The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for impromptu



English Language Learners Definition of impromptu

: not prepared ahead of time : made or done without preparation


im·promp·tu | \ im-ˈprämp-tü , -tyü \

Kids Definition of impromptu

: not prepared ahead of time : made or done without preparation an impromptu speech

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on impromptu

What made you want to look up impromptu? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!