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

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


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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But as the buzz wears off from a dizzying day of impromptu diplomacy, a far longer and more difficult march lies ahead to achieve the ultimate goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Will Ripley, CNN, "Trump and Kim make history, but a longer and more difficult march lies ahead," 30 June 2019 Johnson, Los Angeles's former president of basketball operations, abruptly stepped down from the organization in April during an impromptu press conference before the team's game against the Trail Blazers. Emily Caron,, "Report: Lakers Land Kawhi Leonard Meeting in Los Angeles," 28 June 2019 Sean Kelley, director of interpretation at Eastern State, offered Barlow an impromptu tour of Cell Block 15, which contained death row — a part of the prison that was only occupied for about a decade, from 1959 until Barlow left a decade later. Samantha Melamed,, "The last death-row inmate at Eastern State Penitentiary returns after 50 years in prison," 6 June 2019 On Sunday, May 19, to celebrate the series’ 10-year anniversary Lea stepped into her Rachel Berry shoes with an impromptu Q&A session on both Instagram and Twitter. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Lea Michele, Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, and More Celebrate "Glee" 10-Year Anniversary," 20 May 2019 After their vow exchange, the two posed atop a pink convertible, with their ring pops and sunglasses, for an impromptu wedding portrait session. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sophie Turner Wore a Jumpsuit for Her Las Vegas Wedding to Joe Jonas Last Night," 2 May 2019 Chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani’s impromptu counseling session with Nick Kyrgios (not allowed). Howard Fendrich, The Seattle Times, "From Osaka to umpires, what we learned during wild US Open," 10 Sep. 2018 On a recent morning, the temperature already has climbed north of 90 when the couple set out to give an impromptu tour. Kate Santich,, "Lake couple create haven for rare Scrub-Jays and young fans," 6 July 2018 The Canadian prime minister is on an impromptu tour of steel and aluminum country this week, a denim-clad, open-collared victory lap with workers after Canada and Mexico were excluded from new U.S. tariffs. Josh Wingrove,, "Trudeau Dodged Steel Tariffs. Now He’s Trying to Save Nafta," 15 Mar. 2018

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


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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about impromptu

Listen to Our Podcast about impromptu

Statistics for impromptu

Last Updated

19 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for impromptu

The first known use of impromptu was in 1683

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 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).


providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!