English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I read some articles that used ad-hoc like an adjective.


  • What exactly does it mean in this paragraph:

    Needless to say, all of that is pretty painful and error prone. Sure, once you’re familiar with a library, you’d probably just copy it from another project instead of getting it from the web, which makes things a bit easier. But it’s still an overall very ad-hoc process. — Source.

  • Are there any other meanings?

share|improve this question
No one has actually said that yet, so I'll comment here: ad hoc (like the other Latin locutions) should not be hyphenated, whether it's used as an adverb or adjectivally. – F'x May 3 '11 at 13:33
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Ad hoc means (as reported by the OED) "created or done for a particular purpose as necessary."

The discussions were on an ad hoc basis.
The group was constituted ad hoc.

The NOAD gives a similar definition: "formed, arranged, or done for a particular purpose only."
The Collins English Dictionary defines ad hoc as "for a particular purpose only; lacking generality or justification."

an ad hoc decision
an ad hoc committee


The phrase comes from Latin, and it literally means "to this."

share|improve this answer
There may also be an implication of the ad hoc thing being temporary or last-minute in nature. See also Wikipedia. – Steve Melnikoff May 3 '11 at 13:26
It's usually synonymous with "on the fly" or "off the cuff." Sometimes means "as needed." In other words, "not planned in advance." – The Raven May 3 '11 at 15:37

made or happening only for a particular purpose or need, not planned before it happens

ad hoc committee/meeting

We deal with problems on an ad hoc basis (= as they happen).

share|improve this answer

Ad-hoc means that the solution is designed for this singular purpose, and not meant to be adapted to other processes.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.