Printable Version
Pronunciation: ik-stem-pê-ree Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, adverb

Meaning: Done without preparation, impromptu, unpremeditated, off the cuff, on the spot.

Notes: If you are in a hurry and don't have time to say extemporaneous or extemporaneously, this is the word for such a situation. The noun for the long adjective is extemporanity. Another adjective with the same meaning, extemporary, is shorter than extemporaneous but longer than extempore. Now we should be well armed for all situations requiring this idea.

In Play: As an adjective you might hear extempore in sentences like this: "An extempore group of string instrument players gathers every Wednesday at the Vicksburg Rail Trailhead at 1 pm." As an adverb, we can expect it in this kind of comment: "The senator's political party, fearing what he might say, told his wife not to allow him to speak extempore or answer questions from the press."

Word History: questions from the press." Word history: Today's Good Word smushes together the Latin phrase 'ex tempore', comprising ex "(out) from" + tempore, the ablative case of tempus "time". Ex resulted from PIE eghs "out, from", source also of Greek ex (out) from", Russian iz "out of", Lithuanian iš "(out) of, from", Hindi se "from, since", and Irish as "out, from". The source of tempus had been assumed to be ten-p- "stretched" from ten- "to stretch", since [n] naturally becomes [m] before [p]. Evidence for ten-/ton- is found in Sanskrit tantram "loom" and tanuh "thin, stretched out", English thin, Greek teinein "to stretch", Persian tar "string" as in sitar, from si "three" + tar. We also see it in Russian tonkii "fine, delicate", Serbian and Croatian tanak "thin, fine", and Lithuanian tempti "pull, drag".

Dr. Goodword,

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