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

In the episode that aired on Sunday, the cartoon family makes an impromptu pit stop at the Prada Marfa installation on a road trip through Texas. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Prada Makes an Unlikely Cameo on The Simpsons," 11 Jan. 2019 Kate Middleton's impromptu shopping trip to a British discount store before Christmas caught the world's attention. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton’s Nickname for Princess Charlotte Is Beyond Adorable," 26 Dec. 2018 Carrying a Switch around in your bag now means there’s always a possible impromptu Smash battle on the horizon. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the complete package," 6 Dec. 2018 Invite everyone to bring a dish to an impromptu potluck. Arricca Elin Sansone, Woman's Day, "9 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Save Money This Weekend," 14 Nov. 2018 While in London, the superstar decided to take a break in front of Buckingham Palace and entertain a crowd of fans, including his fiancee, Haily Baldwin, with an impromptu guitar show. Morgan M. Evans, Fox News, "Justin Bieber serenades Hailey Baldwin in front of fans outside Buckingham Palace," 19 Sep. 2018 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

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).


a complex dispute or argument

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