Definition of ad lib in English:

ad lib

adjective & adverb

  • 1Spoken or performed without previous preparation.

    as adverb ‘I spoke ad lib’
    as adjective ‘an ad-lib commentary’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She has the natural voice, the crazy ad-lib skills, and an ability to project wisdom that is well beyond her years.’
    • ‘His immediate response showed showed his flinty ad-lib ability.’
    • ‘Given the band started out from boozy ad-lib jam sessions, this has all been rather unexpected.’
    • ‘Some remember the ad-lib commentary you could provide just with a house mike during a practice.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He is a messy, carefree drunk, prone to loud outbursts, spontaneous characterisations and ad-lib renditions of whatever comes to his mind.’
    • ‘He's back with another improvisation show that combines ad-lib humor with animation.’
    • ‘For a medium that thrives on ad-lib banter, trying to find appropriate words when there are none can easily sound banal.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some blame the prevalence of ad-lib comedy and shows.’
    • ‘Even veteran quarterbacks make a mess of these ad-lib moments.’
    • ‘And I'm not just referring to his series of ridiculous, ad-lib whoppers to the grand jury.’
    • ‘Jackie's mad ad-lib skills immediately earned him a spot at Manhattan's swanky Club 18.’
    • ‘My script was dumped and Bogarde went into freeform ad-lib mode.’
    • ‘This nomadic improvisation troupe takes its ad-lib comedy to movie theatres and bars.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Kidder follows up with an ad-lib joke: ‘I'll have what she's having.’’
    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.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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).’
  • 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


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


ad lib