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[im-promp-too, -tyoo] /ɪmˈprɒmp tu, -tyu/
made or done without previous preparation:
an impromptu address to the unexpected crowds.
suddenly or hastily prepared, made, etc.:
an impromptu dinner.
improvised; having the character of an improvisation.
without preparation:
verses written impromptu.
something impromptu; an impromptu speech, musical composition, performance, etc.
a character piece for piano common in the 19th century and having, despite its title, a clear-cut form.
Origin of impromptu
1660-70; < French < Latin in promptū in readiness; see in, prompt Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for impromptus
Historical Examples
  • I just 'opped about Saigong like a--jackdaw, picking up these impromptus.

    Dragon's blood Henry Milner Rideout
  • There are four impromptus and four Ballades, also four Scherzos.

  • How often have I hover'd at the edge of a crowd of them, to hear their repartees and impromptus!

    Complete Prose Works Walt Whitman
  • For completeness and height, and for sudden surprise, this speech exceeds all impromptus on record.

    The Brothers' War John Calvin Reed
  • Another remarkable question which I feel a wish to touch upon before closing this communication, is that of impromptus.

  • In our country we love to arrange these little effects, to have surprises, impromptus, events that are unexpected.

    Sir Tom Mrs. Oliphant
  • He astonished people at dinner by the impromptus he prepared at breakfast; in a word, he was a wit.

    Paul Clifford, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • I suspect a good many “impromptus” could tell just such a story as the above.

    The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • The contents of Chopin's impromptus are of a more pleasing nature than those of the scherzos.

  • But, as he had already said: "impromptus may be good money of the heart, but they are often the worst money of the head."

British Dictionary definitions for impromptus


unrehearsed; spontaneous; extempore
produced or done without care or planning; improvised
in a spontaneous or improvised way: he spoke impromptu
something that is impromptu
a short piece of instrumental music, sometimes improvisatory in character
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Latin in promptū in readiness, from promptus (adj) ready, prompt
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for impromptus


1660s (adv.), 1764 (adj.), from French impromptu (1650s), from Latin in promptu "in readiness," from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + promptu, ablative of promptus "readiness," from past participle of promere "to bring out," from pro- "before, forward, for" + emere "to obtain" (see exempt).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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