Definition of ad lib in English:

ad lib

adverb & adjective

  • 1Spoken or performed without previous preparation.

    as adverb ‘I spoke ad lib’
    as adjective ‘an ad-lib commentary’
    • ‘He's back with another improvisation show that combines ad-lib humor with animation.’
    • ‘Some blame the prevalence of ad-lib comedy and shows.’
    • ‘Given the band started out from boozy ad-lib jam sessions, this has all been rather unexpected.’
    • ‘This nomadic improvisation troupe takes its ad-lib comedy to movie theatres and bars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Jackie's mad ad-lib skills immediately earned him a spot at Manhattan's swanky Club 18.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Even veteran quarterbacks make a mess of these ad-lib moments.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She has the natural voice, the crazy ad-lib skills, and an ability to project wisdom that is well beyond her years.’
    • ‘The newsreader said ‘We'll be back for more of what appears to be an ad-lib speech from Mark Oaten’.’
    • ‘Neither guy is robotic in the goal, nor is either above throwing in the odd ad-lib move.’
    • ‘For a medium that thrives on ad-lib banter, trying to find appropriate words when there are none can easily sound banal.’
    • ‘My script was dumped and Bogarde went into freeform ad-lib mode.’
    • ‘His immediate response showed showed his flinty ad-lib ability.’
    • ‘He is a messy, carefree drunk, prone to loud outbursts, spontaneous characterisations and ad-lib renditions of whatever comes to his mind.’
    • ‘Kidder follows up with an ad-lib joke: ‘I'll have what she's having.’’
    • ‘Some remember the ad-lib commentary you could provide just with a house mike during a practice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And I'm not just referring to his series of ridiculous, ad-lib whoppers to the grand jury.’
    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.
      • ‘The scoring for the original version of this work is flute and piccolo in D flat, 2 clarinets in E flat (2nd ad lib).’
      • ‘We've been having some nice ad-lib musical jam sessions, thanks to numerous musicians and the international groups around us.’
      • ‘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.

    as adverb ‘the price includes meals and drinks ad lib’
    as adjective ‘the pigs are fed on an ad-lib basis’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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


ad lib