im·​promp·​tu | \ im-ˈpräm(p)-(ˌ)tü How to pronounce impromptu (audio) , -(ˌ)tyü \

Definition of impromptu

 (Entry 1 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



Definition of impromptu (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that is impromptu
2 : a musical composition suggesting improvisation

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

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But impromptu decisions are a fitting call for the tour, as Michele calls Criss one of the more spontaneous performers she's ever sang with. Taylor Weatherby, Billboard, "Lea Michele Teases 'Spontaneous' Tour With Darren Criss, Promises Major 'Glee' Tribute," 30 May 2018 Former President Barack Obama was known to occasionally hold impromptu chats with leaders on the sidelines of major global summits with only their interpreters at their sides. Washington Post, "Alone time: Trump, Kim Jong Un ditch aides to meet 1 on 1," 13 June 2018 Former President Barack Obama was known to occasionally hold impromptu chats with leaders on the sidelines of major global summits with only their translators at their sides. Josh Lederman And Matthew Lee,, "Trump and Kim Jong Un will meet one on one, raising concerns," 11 June 2018 One impromptu chat with a farmer near Dobson, N.C., led this city boy to a short stint working on a farm castrating pigs. Steven Petrow, USA TODAY, "I was a GPS addict, so I tried driving without phone directions to reawaken my 'inner compass'," 22 May 2018 Chris Kinney got serious about it thanks to an impromptu chat with Jones, a fellow hurdler. Jay Willis, GQ, "How to Make an Olympic Bobsledder," 16 Feb. 2018 After the final buzzer, Stanford’s players joined the adult dancing group for an impromptu performance at midcourt. Janie Mccauley,, "Kiana Williams leads Stanford past Washington," 5 Jan. 2020 Smart’s impromptu performance was one of the highlights from Brown’s first community gala, hosted Saturday night at the city’s new casino., "Most read on," 22 Oct. 2019 At school, Carver suggests parents ask that teachers stock allergy-friendly snacks, such as muffins, for their kids in the freezer for unexpected situations, such as an impromptu party. Becky Krystal, Houston Chronicle, "When it comes to food allergies, how to help your kids snack smarter," 10 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The singer put together an impromptu, free set at another location that night. Bonnie Stiernberg, Billboard, "Anne-Marie Plays Impromptu Free Show After Korean Performance Canceled Due to 'Structurally Unsafe' Stage," 28 July 2019 The season’s parade of parties — impromptu or planned, for a few or for the many — always included a certain midsummer birthday bash: the one that Lynn threw for herself year after year. Vance Muse, Houston Chronicle, "Houston socialite Lynn Wyatt recalls her times hanging out with friend Elton John," 14 June 2019

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


1764, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1683, 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

Time Traveler for impromptu

Time Traveler

The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about impromptu

Statistics for impromptu

Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impromptu.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for impromptu


How to pronounce impromptu (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of impromptu

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


im·​promp·​tu | \ im-ˈprämp-tü How to pronounce impromptu (audio) , -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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!