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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The reason for Kate's impromptu visit still remains unknown. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Regularly Uses the Pool at Buckingham Palace," 14 Dec. 2018 During the impromptu trip, being on campus also made Kate pretty nostalgic for her own university days. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton Reveals That She Studied Psychology in College Before Settling on Her Art History Major," 25 Nov. 2018 That might involve spur-of-the-moment art projects, recapping the adventures of the Bubble Guppies, crazy character voices, and impromptu dance parties in the kitchen. David A. Keeps, Good Housekeeping, "Funny Girl: Exclusive Interview with Melissa McCarthy," 6 Nov. 2012 Apart from the surprising impromptu karaoke session, during the clip the guys also bless us with some gems like revealing their selfie tricks, their traveling bucket list and preferred snacks. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Watch BTS Sing Their Favorite Songs from Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande, and Dua Lipa," 17 Oct. 2018 And because hey, why not, it’s been reported by the Mail Online that Robbie Williams even took to the stage during the festivities for an impromptu performance of some of his greatest hits. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank's Royal Wedding Party Got Wild With an Impromptu Celebrity Performance," 13 Oct. 2018 The English singer Robbie Williams, who’s been friends with Princess Eugenie for many years, also hopped on stage for an impromptu performance of his hit songs and other classics. Tess Kornfeld, Glamour, "Here's Everything That Happened at Princess Eugenie's Royal Wedding Reception," 13 Oct. 2018 The Barnstable Brown party is known for its guests who jump onto the backyard stage and offer up impromptu musical sets — sometimes solo or as once-in-a-lifetime mashups. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "Why we see repeat celebrities like Joey Fatone at Derby each year," 3 May 2018 It's only been brought to life a couple of times to date, with a New York City warehouse debut in December and an impromptu DJ set on Holy Ship! 10.0. Kat Bein, Billboard, "Porter Robinson Confirms Leaked Email on Virtual Self, State of Electronic Music," 30 Jan. 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for impromptu

The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

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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

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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).


marked by shyness and lack of polish

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