What Does Spur of the Moment Mean?

Spur of the Moment Meaning

Definition: Impulsively; without planning.

Origin of Spur of the Moment

The full expression, on the spur of the moment, first appeared in the year 1801. However, on the spur existed many years before that. This shorter expression has existed since the 1500s and means very quickly.

Before that, spur meant ankle or kick. It is possible that feet and ankles were associated with moving quickly, which led to today’s meaning. A related meaning that is still used today is the spur worn on a boot, which urges a horse onward. Spur can also be a verb, meaning to urge onward.

Examples of Spur of the Moment

What Does Spur of the Moment Mean?In this example, two friends are discussing their plans for the evening.

Cassie: What do you want to do tonight?

Rebecca: I don’t know. I was too busy throughout the week to plan anything for this weekend.

Cassie: Me, too. I feel like we should throw an impromptu dinner party.

Rebecca: Really? A dinner party usually requires some planning and preparation. Are you sure you want to do this on the spur of the moment?

spur of the moment means In the dialogue below, two men are discussing what to do on a free day that they have.

Antonio: Did you hear about the huge blizzard that supposed to happen tonight?

Igor: Yeah. My work already notified all the employees that they shouldn’t try to come in.

Antonio: I guess we have some unexpected free time.

Igor: We should do something fun with our extra time! Maybe we should take a road trip on the spur of the moment!

Antonio: Maybe not. That might be dangerous with all the snow.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a deadly helicopter ride.

  • A senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board told People that Gentry’s helicopter trip was a “spur of the moment” decision. –LA Times

This excerpt is about a baseball player who has a unique hand gesture.

  • “So I realized the players when they head back to the dugout would be heading in my direction. I just came up with the spur-of-the-moment idea to just stand there with the thumbs down.” –USA Today

Summary

The idiom spur of the moment is an expression that means suddenly and without planning.

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