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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.”

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
Recent Examples on the Web
This ceremonial center of Ellis provides a place of activity, encouraging impromptu gatherings and feel-good fun in the sun. Bang Advertising Staff and Correspondents, The Mercury News, 5 June 2024 The whirlwind, impromptu sessions involved Mortensen’s son from the beginning. Tim Greiving, Los Angeles Times, 31 May 2024 Jean shorts are essential for casual days strolling through a city or impromptu meetups with friends. Grace Smith, Peoplemag, 31 May 2024 Every thought and idea is communicated with a glance, a shrug, a smile, an impromptu soft shoe—this isn’t just animation, but a kind of narrative dance. Stephanie Zacharek, TIME, 31 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for impromptu 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impromptu.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 14 Jun. 2024.

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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