All the usage examples for impromptu I could find in a couple of dictionaries involve actions (impromptu speech, wedding, etc.) Is this a general rule, or can I talk about an "impromptu field hospital"?

  • 1
    An ad hoc hospital has a nice alliterative ring to it! – rhetorician Jun 13 '13 at 3:16

The nuance about 'impromptu' is that it usually refers to something not so serious, and so it is very slightly incongruous with the more weighty 'field hospital'. But it is not glaring and so it could work. It is not discounted because it most often goes with actions or events (because one could assume that one is taking 'field hospital figuratively for its temporary construction). But the slight incongruity of register really is hardly noticeable. If you continued in a lighter vein about the rivers of blood and maggotty battlefield injuries, ha ha ha, it would work perfectly fine.

  • You should wait some time before accepting an answer, to allow others the incentive to come up with an alternate. – Mitch Jun 13 '13 at 2:51
  • Yes - I'd say that 'improvised' is used for meanings towards the 'nowhere near up to standard but indispensable' end of the spectrum, while either may be used for meanings nearer the 'capricious' end. Aaargh - indispensable - field hospital! – Edwin Ashworth Jun 13 '13 at 10:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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