Word of the Week: Extemporaneous

This week’s “Word of the Week” is extemporaneous.  According to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, extemporaneous is an adjective that means “not planned beforehand” or “impromptu.”  It is also synonymous with “improvised,” “spur-of-the-moment,” and “unrehearsed” (The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus).  Those of you who have already attended the improvisation workshop at The Second City have experience speaking extemporaneously, or off-the-cuff.  Similarly, if you received an unexpected award and were asked to say a few words, your speech would be extemporaneous because you’d be making it up as you speak.

Let’s look at some examples of extemporaneous from recent news articles.  Remember that the adverb form of extemporaneous is extemporaneously.

“Riverton High School qualified a record number of speakers for the National Forensic League national tournament this year, thanks to a dominating performance at the recent NFL District tournament hosted by RHS. … Zach Miller won domestic extemporaneous speaking at NFL district, earning his first shot at nationals. Teammate J.D. Manzanares also qualified in extemp.” http://bit.ly/X51ZUw

“Kevin Smith’s screenplays have always been given to extended riffs, monologues, and verbosity at the expense of all else, so it makes sense that he’d forgo the expensive process of film-making altogether and just talk on stage for hours on end. For this series in Dublin (appropriately titled Jay and Silent Bob Get Irish), he’s brought along Jason Mewes, and though logic dictates that some of what they’re talking about was rehearsed and decided upon beforehand, it all comes across as extemporaneous. If you’re a fan of the two, that’s probably fine, because it’s kind of amazing how liberated this schtick feels without a pesky movie getting in the way.” http://bit.ly/14jxAVf

“Franco plays Oscar ‘Oz’ Diggs, a con-artist and fraudulent magician in a traveling circus. Of course, we know he’s eventually destined to become the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and his journey begins in 1905, when he’s whisked away from the dusty and black & white (at least to us) world of Kansas in a hot air balloon by a cyclone. It transports him to the colorful and magical – and widescreen – world of Oz, which has, among other things, deep hues, fairies, talking monkeys, witches (wicked and good), munchkins, a yellow brick road, and just plain old jolly, hardworking people who like to sing and dance extemporaneously.”

“That phrase ‘Jedi mind meld,’ which he uttered during extemporaneous (read: no prompter or script) remarks during the question-and-answer portion of the newser [sic], appears to combine elements from two distinct sci-fi worlds. A ‘Jedi mind trick’ is a power exercised by Jedi Knights in Star Wars, usually accomplished by verbal manipulation (Famous example: ‘These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.’) But ‘mind meld’ is a phenomenon from Star Trek. It’s a method of communication used among Vulcans, like Spock.” http://wapo.st/14q71hL

“As NME notes, Smith’s extemporaneous performance of the Fresh Prince rap at the South London school comes just one week after a teen’s less authentic voicemail rendition of the song managed to shut down an entire school district after the line ‘shooting some b-ball outside of the school’ was misheard by a receptionist as ‘shooting people outside of the school.’” http://gaw.kr/15M4wSJ

“In his actual speech — the prewritten bits of which you can read here while observing from this video that he spoke mostly extemporaneously — Gudkov pointed to [a] widening gulf between state-concocted agitprop and the independent news and information accessible to more and more Russians through the Internet.” http://bit.ly/16TRJB3

“Wednesday night’s version sounded in part as if it was studied – there were obviously things Chelsea’s interim manager had been wanting to get off his chest for some time – but, equally, there was something extremely extemporaneous about it. After all, why blow up like this after an uneventful win against a lower division opponent? And why have a go at your own travelling fans, folks who made a 300-mile round trip on a work night and who, to be fair, hadn’t been any more vicious than usual in their abuse?” http://bit.ly/Zm2Z53

For more information on extemporaneous, please visit the following Web sites:



Works Cited:
“Extemporaneous.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 11th Ed., 2004. Print.

“Extemporaneous.” The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus. 2005. Print.


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