The Meaning of Ad Hoc: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of ad hoc? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word ad hoc, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the term ad hoc mean?

According to Collins English Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the term ad hoc can be used as an adjective or adverb. This is a Latin phrase meaning a coordinated policy or organization that was not planned in advance, but done or formed because a situation has made it necessary. In short, this term means for a special case, or without general application. These are used in unpredictable situations. The pronunciation of ad hoc is ˌædˈhɒk.

According to Lexico, the term ad hoc can also be used to refer to a wireless ad hoc network. These types of networks have a system of elements that combine to form a network that does not require much planning, or requires little planning. This network of computers is formed via a set of hosts that communicate over a wireless channel. It utilizes handcrafted network protocol to tailor the system of network elements to a specific task or purpose-specific equation. A system like this might not contain a router or hub.

Many things can be examples of ad hoc and the term can be used in various situations, including an ad hoc decision made to solve a particular problem, a curator ad hoc or an ad hoc caretaker of the grounds of a museum, an ad hoc judge tasked with a special purpose for a specific subject in courts, an ad hoc mayor put in place under special circumstances, an ad hoc military unit put in place on an international level for cooperation between different units, and more. Ad hoc units are anomalies formed when the military is suddenly needed for fast action or other such contexts. This term is frequently used in civil law, in judicial writings or a judicial report, and more.

Many different languages also use the term ad hoc. You may notice that some of these translations of ad hoc look and sound similar to one another. These are called cognates, which are when two words that have the same meaning across languages also look and sound similar or the same. Cognates are often formed when two words have the same root or language of origin. This list of translations for the word ad hoc is provided by Word Sense, but you could also find them in a Spanish dictionary, German dictionary, or French electronic resource. 

  •  Turkish: ad hoc‎ (amaca özel)
  •  Kurdish: taybeti‎
  •  Hebrew: אד הוק‎
  •  Esperanto: specialcela‎
  •  Greek: επί τούτω‎
  •  Interlingua: ad hoc
  •  Roman: ad hoc‎
  •  Latin: ad hoc‎
  •  Swedish: ad hoc‎
  •  Italian: ad hoc‎
  •  Hindi: तदर्थ‎ (tadarth)
  •  Slovene: ad hoc
  •  French: ad hoc‎
  •  Telugu: andu kosam
  •  Norwegian: ad hoc‎
  •  Indonesian: ad hoc
  •  Portuguese: ad hoc‎
  •  Danish: ad hoc‎
  •  Azeri: әd hak (amaca özәl)
  •  Romanian: ad hoc‎
  •  Slovak: ad hoc‎
  •  Polish: ad hoc‎, dla tego‎, doraźny‎ (masc.)
  •  Mandarin: 臨時‎, 临时‎ (línshí)
  •  Vietnamese: đặc ứng‎
  •  Czech: ad hoc‎
  •  Icelandic: sértækur‎ (masc.), sérsniðinn‎ (masc.)
  •  Finnish: ad hoc‎; tätä tarkoitusta varten‎
  •  Hungarian: ad hoc‎
  •  Dutch: ad hoc‎
  •  Spanish: ad hoc‎
  •  Persian: ویژه‎
  •  German: ad hoc‎
  •  Russian: специа́льный‎

What are synonyms of the term ad hoc?

There are many different words that a person can use in place of the word ad hoc. These are called synonyms. Synonyms are words and phrases that have the same meaning as a given word or phrase. Synonyms are useful for a variety of reasons. They are a quick and simple way to work on expanding one’s vocabulary, and can also be useful when one is trying not to repeat the same word in a written work or spoken word. This list of synonyms for the word ad hoc is provided by Power Thesaurus

  •  on impulse
  •  by ear
  •  pro tem
  •  dedicated
  •  unrehearsed
  •  interim
  •  cobbled together
  •  make-do
  •  tossed off
  •  at first glance
  •  one-time
  •  special
  •  off-the-cuff
  •  unprepared
  •  particular
  •  taking for ride
  •  tossed out
  •  spur-of-the moment
  •  impromptu
  •  immediate
  •  ad lib
  •  specific
  •  ad-lib
  •  unpremeditated
  •  spontaneous
  •  thrown-together
  •  autoschediastic
  •  makeshift
  •  temporary
  •  extempore
  •  unscripted
  •  extemporary
  •  in duration
  •  jury-rigged
  •  specialty
  •  unplanned
  •  off the cuff
  •  extemporised
  •  specialized
  •  improvised
  •  spur-of-the-moment
  •  for the time being
  •  improv
  •  provisional
  •  in process
  •  one-off
  •  offhand
  •  stopgap
  •  thought out loud
  •  improviso

What is the origin of ad hoc?

According to Etymonline, the New Latin ad hoc comes directly from the Latin ad hōc. This means “to this” or “with respect to this” and uses the neuter accusative of hic. Ad hoc spreads as a term beginning in the mid 1500s in legal writing, but spreads further in the 1800s. One famous example is from a Louisiana Code of Practice for civil law. Another report from the state of New York around the same time also uses this term.

Per Dictionary, the term ad hoc was also used by scientists in scientific writing to describe an ad hoc hypothesis, which is a scientific excuse or logical fallacy, or the addition of extraneous hypotheses, unsupported adjustments. Someone might make up a new complication to brush off evidence against their claim in these scientific theories. Some of these ad hoc hypotheses are useful while others are just silly. From here, things like ad hoc organizations and the term adhocracy were popularized, along with the noun adhocism. 

How can ad hoc be used in a sentence?

The term ad hoc can be used in many different ways in the English language. Using words in a sentence is a great way to memorize their definitions. You can also try making flashcards or a quiz to test your knowledge. Common examples of ad hoc are below to help get you started using the term ad hoc.

He attempted some ad hoc homeopathy to alleviate his symptoms during his health insurance problems.

The ad hoc compensation committee addressed the specific case on the issue of salaries at Princeton University, prompting the dean to provide justification for the pay disparity. The committee demands specific information. 

The ad hoc committee meeting came to order with arbitrariness and an unplanned order. They needed to focus on the present purposes of the issue with no apparent forethought, and everyone shared their unplanned remarks to find makeshift solutions.

The ad hoc brutality of the Roman regime was brought to light in the fifth edition of the text. 

Overall, the phrase ad hoc (adj./adv.) means unplanned or not planned in advance. This comes directly from the Latin phrase ad hoc.


  1. Ad hoc | Definition of Ad hoc | 
  2. AD HOC English Definition and Meaning | Lexico 
  3. Ad hoc definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary
  4. ad hoc | Origin and meaning of phrase ad hoc | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  5. Ad Hoc synonyms – 360 Words and Phrases for Ad Hoc | Power Thesaurus