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im·​promp·​tu im-ˈpräm(p)-(ˌ)tü How to pronounce impromptu (audio)
: made, done, or formed on or as if on the spur of the moment : improvised
: composed or uttered without previous preparation : extemporaneous
impromptu adverb


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: something that is impromptu
: a musical composition suggesting improvisation

Did you know?

If you think that impromptu looks like a relative of the adjective 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." Something that is impromptu is generally "prompted" (that English verb is from Latin promptus, of the same meaning) by an occasion that generates a response in the form of, for example, a party or a speech that has not been planned. There is also another, much rarer descendant of promere in English: the noun promptuary, meaning "a book of ready reference."

Example Sentences

Adjective 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. Noun although five different lines had been written, the best choice turned out to be an impromptu from the tired actor himself
Recent Examples on the Web
Sources tell Rolling Stone that Warner Bros. and DC executives held an emergency impromptu meeting to discuss Miller’s recent controversies and their future with the studio. Vulture, 13 Jan. 2023 Outside the court Friday in Waterbury, Conn., Mr. Jones held an impromptu news conference, criticizing the judge, lawyers for the families and the trial, saying he hasn’t been allowed to defend himself. Erin Mulvaney, WSJ, 23 Sep. 2022 But as Wafula Chebukati, the chief electoral commissioner, prepared to announce the winner on Monday, one of Mr. Odinga’s top aides called an impromptu news conference outside. Matthew Mpoke Bigg, New York Times, 15 Aug. 2022 Murray held an impromptu news conference last week after Cardinals practice to address the clause. Cale Clinton, USA TODAY, 31 July 2022 Giuliani announced his mission at an impromptu press conference on the outskirts of the city, at an establishment called Claridge’s Total Hedgerows. Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, 6 July 2022 Less than 24 hours later, Fisher called an impromptu news conference Thursday and did not hold back with his displeasure with his former boss when the two were at LSU. Ralph D. Russo, Chicago Tribune, 19 May 2022 Festival of Music and Dance of dancers, caught between rehearsals or staging an impromptu dance in a field. John Hopewell, Variety, 21 Oct. 2021 Make the most of the hours spend look for the exit by having an impromptu photo shoot in the maze. Maggie Horton, Country Living, 20 July 2022
Eric quickly pivoted and put together an impromptu, yet heartfelt proposal at home in New York—and on March 8, 2020, just four days before the official start of nationwide lockdown, Eric surprised Jamie by asking her to marry him in Central Park. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, 9 Jan. 2023 Here are seven—all very different—spots for live music in Brooklyn to sample diverse, energetic, and impromptu acts any night of the week. Francesca Carington, Condé Nast Traveler, 12 Sep. 2022 So did his roommate Caleb Rogers, an offensive lineman from Mansfield Lake Ridge who’d become accustomed to Price’s impromptu, one-man concerts. Dallas News, 14 July 2022 The rest of the nightly repertoire will be chosen and played impromptu. Jonathan Cohen, SPIN, 20 Sep. 2022 Kim then shared an inside look at her visit to the famed fast-food joint, where a camera crew could be seen joining her entourage during their impromptu outing. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 24 Oct. 2022 Inspired by an impromptu sing-along of traditional Ukrainian songs with dozens of her neighbors, Kolomiec decided to dedicate MusiCures to Ukrainian music. Yasmeen Serhan, Time, 13 Oct. 2022 To the crowd’s delight, the king ordered his driver to stop the royal Rolls-Royce for an impromptu walkabout outside the gates. Karla Adam, Washington Post, 11 Sep. 2022 But Miss Manners assures you that the impromptu and work-based visit did not require your presence, and that your behavior was sufficiently cordial. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 6 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1764, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

Dictionary Entries Near impromptu

Cite this Entry

“Impromptu.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


: not prepared ahead of time : extemporaneous
an impromptu speech
impromptu adverb or noun

More from Merriam-Webster on impromptu

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