What Does Ad Hoc Mean?

Ad Hoc Meaning

Definition: Done for a specific purpose; also improvised and impromptu.

Origin of Ad Hoc

This expression originated around the 1550s. It comes from Latin, and the literal English translation is for this.

Examples of Ad Hoc

what is ad hocIn the dialogue below, two friends are discussing joining a special committee.

Tina: Hey, Keanu. I think you should join this committee with me.

Keanu: Maybe. What is it?

Tina: It’s called Bring Pandas to Our Zoo.

Keanu: Uh huh. And I guess this committee serves only one specific purpose?

Tina: Yes! Our one and only goal is to help our zoo procure some pandas.

Keanu: I’m really not interested in being a part of that type of ad-hoc committee.

Tina: How could you not be interested? Pandas are so cute, and it would help our city earn money from tourism.

Keanu: I’m just not that into zoos. I’d be happy to join a more general committee. Perhaps we could join one dedicated to fixing up the city parks.

define ad hocIn this example, two friends are discussing a work problem.

Jonah: This whole office is disorganized.

Tatiana: I know, but there’s really nothing that we can do about it.

Jonah: Sure there is! I’m sure there would be widespread support to make all the supplies easier to find.

Tatiana: Okay. What do you suggest?

Jonah: I think we should set up an ad-hoc closet that is only dedicated to office supplies.

Tatiana: Okay. That’s a pretty easy fix.

Jonah: I’ll go ask the boss for approval.

Tatiana: Great!

More Examples

This excerpt is from a photo caption. It describes the kitchens that were started exclusively to feed activists protesting an oil pipeline.

  • A food line at the Soup Kettle House, one of many ad-hoc kitchens feeding the thousands protesting the Dakota Access pipeline. –Houston Chronicle

The second example is from an article about a teenager who died from starvation. There is a special committee that has only one purpose, which is to decide if children’s deaths were preventable.

  • Chapter 92 of Iowa Code also allows legislators or the governor to call together an ad hoc Child Death Review Committee to determine whether DHS and other agencies responded appropriately. –USA Today


Ad-hoc is an adverb that means for a specific purpose or end.