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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?

Impromptu most often describes things, such as speeches or gatherings, that are not prepared ahead of time but that instead happen spontaneously. An impromptu concert or photoshoot, for example, is conceived and executed in the moment. Impromptu was borrowed—spelling, meaning, and all—from French in the mid-18th century. The French had gotten the word from Latin, from the phrase in promptu, meaning “in readiness.” But the presence of prompt in there is no coincidence: both impromptu and prompt are ultimately derived from the Latin promere, meaning “to bring forth, take out.”

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
His fellow cast members even joined in on the impromptu acapella session. Haadiza Ogwude, The Enquirer, 24 Feb. 2023 Ever since the two confirmed their romance to the public, their red-carpet appearances, Instagram photo dumps, and The Kardashians cameos have been littered with impromptu make-out sessions—baring all for the camera to capture. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 18 Nov. 2022 Cleye sounds less like a professional singer and more like your parents’ friend who is earnestly determined to turn any gathering into an impromptu karaoke session— an aesthetic that seems handbuilt for attracting ridicule. Ct Jones, Rolling Stone, 7 Nov. 2022 Time spent together builds trust, and every casual conversation or impromptu brainstorming session shared in the office naturally forges stronger relationships. Ken Babcock, Quartz, 17 Oct. 2022 Will anybody who buys one actually take it to a track or an impromptu dirt-road drift session? Mike Duff, Car and Driver, 17 Oct. 2022 Ed Sheeran gave a surprise performance in Ibiza on Monday, thrilling fans with an impromptu poolside singalong session. Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 27 Sep. 2022 Hilaria joined him for the impromptu interview, stepping in to help control the flow of questions as passing cars slowed down to take in the scene. Sara Netzley,, 30 Oct. 2021 Okerlund grabbed Warhol for an impromptu interview. Jon Wertheim, Vulture, 25 June 2021 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 Mar. 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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