Definition of ad-lib in English:


Line breaks: ad-lib
Pronunciation: /ad ˈlɪb

verb (ad-libs, ad-libbing, ad-libbed)

[no object]
  • Speak or perform without previously preparing one’s words: Charles had to ad-lib because he’d forgotten his script
    More example sentences
    • 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.
    improvise, extemporize, speak impromptu, make it up as one goes along, think on one's feet, take it as it comes
    informal speak off the cuff, speak off the top of one's head, play it by ear, busk it, wing it

adverb & adjective

(also ad lib) Back to top  
  • 2As much and as often as desired: [as adverb]: the price includes meals and drinks ad lib
    More example sentences
    • 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.


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  • An ad-lib remark or speech: he came up with an apt ad-lib
    More example sentences
    • 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.


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

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Pronunciation: ˌkɒlərəˈtjʊərə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody