Meaning of ad lib in English:

ad lib

Pronunciation /ˌadˈlɪb/

See synonyms for ad lib

Translate ad lib into Spanish


  • 1Without previous preparation.

    ‘I spoke ad lib’
    • ‘Some remember the ad-lib commentary you could provide just with a house mike during a practice.’
    • ‘He is a messy, carefree drunk, prone to loud outbursts, spontaneous characterisations and ad-lib renditions of whatever comes to his mind.’
    • ‘This nomadic improvisation troupe takes its ad-lib comedy to movie theatres and bars.’
    • ‘He's back with another improvisation show that combines ad-lib humor with animation.’
    • ‘Yet, thankfully, for all the hype, it's still a low-tech performance with poor dancing, ad-lib singing and plenty of knee-sliding across the stage.’
    • ‘Kidder follows up with an ad-lib joke: ‘I'll have what she's having.’’
    • ‘And I'm not just referring to his series of ridiculous, ad-lib whoppers to the grand jury.’
    • ‘His immediate response showed showed his flinty ad-lib ability.’
    • ‘It's been said that master comedian Bob Hope never delivered an ad-lib line and Kormos says it's rare to find a comic who can truly improvise.’
    • ‘She has the natural voice, the crazy ad-lib skills, and an ability to project wisdom that is well beyond her years.’
    • ‘My script was dumped and Bogarde went into freeform ad-lib mode.’
    • ‘Given the band started out from boozy ad-lib jam sessions, this has all been rather unexpected.’
    • ‘For a medium that thrives on ad-lib banter, trying to find appropriate words when there are none can easily sound banal.’
    • ‘The newsreader said ‘We'll be back for more of what appears to be an ad-lib speech from Mark Oaten’.’
    • ‘If one goes by the findings of behavioural studies, one would think twice before assigning baby-sitting functions for the telly or hold back from going ga ga over the toddler who lisps ad-lib.’
    • ‘I am hoping that this will go well enough and that the audience will be understanding enough to allow me then just to chat ad-lib about the other stuff that has happened so far.’
    • ‘Neither guy is robotic in the goal, nor is either above throwing in the odd ad-lib move.’
    • ‘Some blame the prevalence of ad-lib comedy and shows.’
    • ‘Jackie's mad ad-lib skills immediately earned him a spot at Manhattan's swanky Club 18.’
    • ‘Even veteran quarterbacks make a mess of these ad-lib moments.’
    impromptu, extempore, without preparation, without rehearsal, extemporaneously, spontaneously, offhand
    impromptu, extempore, extemporaneous, extemporary, improvised, improvisational, improvisatory, improvisatorial, unprepared, unarranged, unplanned, unrehearsed, unscripted, unpremeditated, spontaneous, on-the-spot
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    1. 1.1Music (especially as a direction) with free rhythm and expression.
      ‘he's given the task of interrupting the orchestra, playing ad lib and out of time’
      • ‘We've been having some nice ad-lib musical jam sessions, thanks to numerous musicians and the international groups around us.’
      • ‘The scoring for the original version of this work is flute and piccolo in D flat, 2 clarinets in E flat (2nd ad lib).’
      • ‘Parts are also included in the set for E flat alto clarinet, B flat contrabass clarinet, and two flugelhorns, all of which are ad lib.’
  • 2As much and as often as desired.

    ‘the price includes meals and drinks ad lib’
    • ‘It is vital that animals are built up on ad-lib meals gradually and that feed is kept in front of them at all times and that they have access to some roughage in the form of straw or silage.’
    • ‘If good quality silage is fed ad-lib to dry cows, energy intakes will exceed requirements which can result in over fat cows at calving with its associated problems.’
    • ‘A simple ration based on ad-lib straw with a protein balancer can be fed to young stock and replacement heifers and this will help preserve grazing.’
    • ‘For young stock and replacement heifers, Keenan have developed a simple feeding system based on ad-lib straw fed with a 21% crude protein balancer.’
    • ‘Animals with more time available for finishing have the option of meals at a lower level plus silage or silage only with ad lib meals.’


  • 1Spoken or performed without previous preparation.

    • ‘an ad-lib commentary’
    1. 1.1Music Performed with free rhythm and expression.
      • ‘the last track is an ad lib untitled jam by the whole bunch’
  • 2Occurring, used, or distributed as often as necessary or desired.

    • ‘the pigs are fed on an ad-lib basis’

verbverb ad-libs, verb ad-libbing, verb ad-libbed

(also ad-lib)
no object
  • Speak or perform in public without previously preparing one's words.

    ‘Charles had to ad-lib because he'd forgotten his script’
    • ‘He was doing more ad-libbing and improvisation than me.’
    • ‘He didn't look like he was being formally interviewed - he looked more like he was inadvisedly ad-libbing at large with an apparently friendly journalist, while the camera just happened to be rolling.’
    • ‘He was cold, he was bad at ad-libbing and he was very bad at setting up the panelists to be funny.’
    • ‘Although his drum version of Bring Me To Life was slightly different and it was obvious he was ad-libbing most of it, he managed to stumble his way though.’
    • ‘He is forever quoting the ‘Good Book’, comically ad-libbing when the lines don't suit his purpose.’
    • ‘This gives him ample time to indulge in ad-libbing, a pastime of which he seems inordinately fond.’
    • ‘He was confident, quick, very good at ad-libbing and feeding off the audience.’
    • ‘Howie didn't have an act but he got up there, almost on a dare, and ad-libbed what turned out to be the funniest set of the evening.’
    • ‘We did 11 comedy albums, and I think 10 were live, and they were all ad-libbed.’
    • ‘I thought his hilarious banter was all ad-libbed.’
    • ‘As a result, the castmembers themselves seem to have ad-libbed most of the week, based on what I imagine was a rough sketch of a few plot points.’
    • ‘They allowed me to experiment, they allowed me to take risks, which meant I ad-libbed freely and largely amusingly.’
    • ‘Our star couldn't remember his lines so he ad-libbed all the way through the show.’
    • ‘Midway, Topher started ad-libbing along on his guitar.’
    • ‘Apparently the mental script she was following didn't allow for ad-libbing, for she continued as if he hadn't interrupted.’
    • ‘As Bilko, Silvers was never less than sensational, delivering his lines with speed and guile and marvellously ad-libbing when the situation required it.’
    • ‘After taking the oath of office, George Washington ad-libbed the final words, ‘So help me God.’’
    • ‘Díaz, who was trying to woo a girl, ad-libbed his own lyrics, which he'd sing to introduce his radio show in the 1940s.’
    • ‘At one point, they ad-libbed a scene based on their own friendship.’
    • ‘I did some ad-libbed material of a similar bent at the gig I did in Brighton last night.’
    improvise, extemporize, speak impromptu, make it up as one goes along, think on one's feet, take it as it comes
    View synonyms


  • A remark or speech made without previous preparation.

    ‘he came up with an apt ad lib’
    • ‘He makes a game attempt to liven up the dreary proceedings with some clever dialogue and ad-libs.’
    • ‘The propensity for ad-libs lends a natural feel to the dialogue that suits the actor and character, and this is probably the strength of the film.’
    • ‘Geoff delivers a monologue about divorce with ad-libs to the audience - this is real talent.’
    • ‘Owen Wilson has a smarmy-cool, utterly natural screen persona of smiles, cheeky ad-libs and ironically understated wisecracks.’
    • ‘But in the final cut, all my ad-libs were in, so we know who won that battle.’
    • ‘The reason there have not been more mess-ups is because of his rule against ad-libs.’
    • ‘The best bits, apart from a few genuinely funny ad-libs, are when the actors seem to break character and reveal things about their own real lives.’
    • ‘With a stage presence as big as her amazing costumes, her ad-libs and one-liners had the audience in raptures.’
    • ‘The two of them wrote the show from scratch, ensured they got all the best lines and threw in deft ad-libs as required.’
    • ‘It's odd comparing which bits of material are standard and which were the ad-libs.’
    • ‘On the set, Sanders was the perfect self-effacing host, happy to play straightman to his guests or to enliven a dull show with pertinent ad-libs and stupid sketches.’
    • ‘He had them rolling in the aisles at his hilarious asides and unscripted ad-libs.’
    • ‘His songs came off best when he would embellish them with ad-libs and stories.’
    • ‘I can recount most of his inspired scripts from memory - with plenty of space for the cast's own contributions and ad-libs.’
    • ‘The gravely, growling voice is shot to bits, the performances are hokey, the ad-libs too frequent, and the constant crowd noises irritating.’
    • ‘But of course there are also people who actually expect ‘something’ other than silly comedy and ad-libs from these films, so some really negative reviews too.’
    • ‘The lead vocal is perfect: sung in a dispassionate English accent, devoid of vibrato or ad-libs, everything enunciated as precisely as suburban etiquette would demand.’
    • ‘He started out with very strong ideas about how he wanted the narrative to run and then prepared his actors, encouraging ad-libs and improvisation throughout.’
    • ‘We always chatted with the audience before shows and wanted to create something with more ad-libs, auctions, tickets and prizes and thought that was a good idea for an informal show.’
    • ‘Alas it is inevitable if I am going to do edgier stuff and also if I am going to keep the shows looser with more ad-libs and so on.’


Mid 18th century (as an adverb): abbreviation of ad libitum.