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

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Broidy, the California businessman and new Mar-a-Lago member, had been dining with Dragnea and arranged an impromptu introduction to Trump. Nicholas Confessore, Star Tribune, "The swamp that Trump built: How the president reinvented D.C.'s culture of favor-seeking," 10 Oct. 2020 The consolidated Speedweeks will feature big events each day leading up to the 500, beginning with the Clash being run on the track’s road course, where NASCAR held an impromptu Cup Series race Aug. 16. Edgar Thompson,, "Daytona speedway pleased with its role in NASCAR’s 2021 plans," 5 Oct. 2020 Its seat and back cushions filled with foam for comfort and wrapped in easy-to-clean polyester upholstery which is water-resistant, standing up to rainstorms and splashes from impromptu cannonballs. Mark Heim |, al, "Wayfair offers up to 80% during annual Way Day sale, flash deals on bedding, furniture, appliances," 23 Sep. 2020 After alerting police, Nataluk jumped into action for the impromptu rescue. Hannah Lawson, CNN, "Bridge inspector rescues dog stranded 120 feet above Mississippi River," 23 Sep. 2020 One evening, while hurrying to a dance performance at a local theater, Conor and I ran into a throng that had gathered in a narrow street to watch an impromptu show by one of the neighborhood's drum groups. Saki Knafo, Condé Nast Traveler, "Exploring Bahia's Afro-Brazilian Roots," 22 Sep. 2020 Weaver’s pilgrimage to honor the life of the second American woman Supreme Court justice was mirrored in impromptu memorials, virtual worship services, and observances within hours of Ginsburg’s death. Rachel Jones, National Geographic, "See how Americans are mourning Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the nation's capital," 21 Sep. 2020 The couple left almost immediately around 12:40 a.m., following several Sheriff’s Office vehicles in an impromptu convoy that broke up as deputies peeled off to knock on other doors. oregonlive, "A knock, a call, a siren, an explosion: How 4 Oregon neighbors learned deadly wildfire roared toward them," 20 Sep. 2020 The Navy Medical Corps and the travelling nurses have gone home; the impromptu I.C.U.s have been dismantled; the rapid responses grow less frequent. Danielle Ofri, The New Yorker, "A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary," 1 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Barr, who isn’t a big drinker, keeps bottles of blended and single malt whiskeys in his office for occasional impromptu, end-of-the-day, decompression get-togethers with his staff. Manuel Roig-franzia, Washington Post, "How President Trump and his attorney general use each other," 15 Sep. 2020 However, instead of group performances, these programs, often recorded by musicians in their homes and private studios, simulate as much as possible an impromptu, one-on-one encounter between a performer and an individual. David Buice, Dallas News, "Using live and virtual programming, the DSO continues to bring music to the D-FW community," 28 Aug. 2020 One evening, in the dining hall, a teacher rumored to have been disappointed in love danced impromptu with her cat. Christopher Benfey, The New York Review of Books, "Missed Steps," 26 Aug. 2020 As attendees of Monday evening's peaceful impromptu protest around an alleged racist attack against a Black man at Lake Monroe started to disperse, authorities were called to Walnut Street in Bloomington, where a vehicle had struck a pedestrian. Ernest Rollins And Emily Ernsberger, The Indianapolis Star, "Driver strikes pedestrian after Bloomington rally, march over alleged racist assault," 8 July 2020 The impromptu prom, the 2020 Dress to Impress event, will be more of a chance for seniors to have one last celebration with their friends, said Michelle Wagner. Samantha Hendrickson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "This family is hosting prom for their daughter and other Waukesha West students at an Ottawa barn," 3 June 2020 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for impromptu

Time Traveler

The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Impromptu.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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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

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