Ad lib

something improvised in speech, music, etc.:
Was that joke part of your speech or an ad lib?
at one’s pleasure; without restriction.
freely; as needed; without stint:
Water can be given to the patients ad lib.
to improvise all or part of (a speech, a piece of music, etc.):
to ad-lib one’s lines.
to act, speak, etc., without preparation:
Throughout the play he had to ad-lib constantly.
impromptu; extemporaneous:
ad-lib remarks to hecklers.
Contemporary Examples

Now Guttentag encourages us to forget about the script and ad lib the scene.
My All-Too-Brief Acting Career Howard Kurtz July 4, 2011

Historical Examples

The general belief, in consequence, was that I had committed ‘nameless’ crimes in all directions, ad lib.
Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 2 (of 6) Havelock Ellis

One day, however, De Beers astonished the Colonel by offering to manufacture shells, ad lib.
The Siege of Kimberley T. Phelan

“I needed a job awful bad,” I answered sullenly, knowing it sounded like an ad lib.
The Old Die Rich Horace Leonard Gold

It consisted of a monologue delivered by the poisonous young woman to the macaw, occasionally varied by ad lib.
The Book of Susan Lee Wilson Dodd

That doesn’t mean that every individual is a bit of both, or either, ad lib.
Fantasia of the Unconscious D. H. Lawrence

He sang the foregoing twice over and then added a chorus, plainly improvised, made up of “Di doos” and “Di dums” ad lib.
The Portygee Joseph Crosby Lincoln

verb -libs, -libbing, -libbed
to improvise and deliver without preparation (a speech, musical performance, etc)
adjective (ad lib when predicative)
improvised; impromptu
without restraint; freely
(music) short for ad libitum
an improvised performance, often humorous

1811, shortened from Latin ad libitum “at one’s pleasure, as much as one likes” (c.1600), from libere “to please” (see libido). First recorded as one word 1919 (v.), 1925 (n.).

ad lib. abbr.
Latin ad libitum (freely, as desired)


: They danced ad lib until the conductor found his place again


: an ad-lib gag/ a quick ad-lib put-down

noun phrase

A passage or comment, etc, given spontaneously: He forgot his lines and did a stupid ad lib

verb phrase

To speak, play, dance, or otherwise perform a passage not in one’s prescribed plan, often with an original and spontaneous effect: The Senator ad lib-bed for ten minutes waiting for the President to show

[fr Latin ad libitum, ”as one wishes”]
Latin ad libitum (at pleasure, speak without notes or script-that is, an unscripted comment)


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    at one’s pleasure. Music. not obligatory or indispensable. Abbreviation: ad lib. Historical Examples Problematical judgements are those in which the affirmation or negation is accepted as merely possible (ad libitum). The Critique of Pure Reason Immanuel Kant I dwell in my sky-parlor and become Jupiter the while, ad libitum. The Dramatic Values in Plautus Wilton […]

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    to the letter; exactly.

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  • Ad loc.

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