Ad Hoc: What Does Ad Hoc Mean? with Easy Examples

There are many millions of words and phrases that we use in our everyday life, but have you ever stopped to consider where some of them came from and just how we ended using them? What about ad hoc? Did you know that it’s actually Latin?

Ad Hoc

What Does Ad Hoc Mean?

Ad hoc is a phrase that means something that is used for a special purpose and has been formed for immediate use, without any prior planning. In other words, it means a solution that has been formed for a specific task that wouldn’t be used for anything other than that one purpose.

Origin of Ad Hoc

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase that means “to this”. In English, it generally means “for this specific purpose” and “as it happens”.

The phrase was first known to be used as an adverb in 1639 and as an adjective in 1879. It was initially used in mainly legal documents before it became more widespread in the late 1800’s. Around that time it also began to be used in a scientific context, using the phrase “ad hoc hypothesis” to mean a scientific excuse and something that could be brushed aside as mere folly.

Other Similar Acronyms

A similar phrase to ad hoc is “ad lib”. Ad lib is short for ad libitum which is also Latin. Ad lib means “without preparation” and also “as much as desired”.

For example:

  • She spoke ad lib” means she spoke without any preparation.
  • The cows are fed ad lib” means they are fed as much as they desire.

Other Meanings

Ad hoc can also have the following meanings:

  • Unexpected
  • Unprepared
  • Unplanned
  • Unrehearsed
  • Improvised
  • Impromptu
  • Impulsive
  • Spur of the moment
  • Makeshift
  • Spontaneous
  • On-the-spot
  • Ad-lib

In computing, ad hoc has another meaning. The term “ad hoc networks” is used to describe a series of computers that are connected to others without a router on a temporary basis.

When to Use Ad Hoc

Ad hoc is best used to describe something that is unplanned or unexpected or to describe something that has been formed for a special purpose.

It can also be used as a criticism, to mean that something wasn’t well planned or well thought out.


  • The train made an ad hoc stop half an hour after it set off.

(This phrase means it was an unscheduled stop.)

  • Jim had an ad hoc job.

(This phrase means he works as needed.)

  • They created an ad hoc film set.

(This phrase means an improvised set.)

  • The group was formed on an ad hoc basis.
  • We deal with problems ad hoc.
  • They had an ad hoc party following their announcement.
  • They decided to hire more workers on an ad hoc basis.
  • She always made decisions ad hoc.
  • It was an ad hoc investigation.
  • The government formed an ad hoc committee to deal with the matter.
  • The festival had been organized in a very ad hoc manner.
  • They had to make a lot of ad hoc changes to the plans.

Ad Hoc | Image

What Does Ad Hoc Mean?