Definition of ad lib in English:

ad lib

(also ad-lib)

Pronunciation /ˌad ˈlib/ /ˌæd ˈlɪb/


  • 1Without previous preparation.

    ‘I spoke ad lib’
    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’
  • 2As much and as often as desired.

    ‘the price includes meals and drinks ad lib’


  • 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’

verbad-libs, ad-libbing, ad-libbed

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
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  • A remark or speech made without previous preparation.

    ‘he came up with an apt ad lib’


Early 19th century (as an adverb): abbreviation of ad libitum.


ad lib

/ˌad ˈlib/ /ˌæd ˈlɪb/