Ad libitum

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The expression ad libitum (abbreviated ad lib. ) Is Latin and means “as you see fit”, “at will”.


In music, the term stands for the freedoms granted in the interpretation of a work with regard to performance, tempo or scoring, for example

When scoring information (such as “choir, organ ad lib.”) It is meant that the instrument (the organ) can be left out.

The solo part shortly before the end of the first movement of an instrumental concert , the so-called cadenza , was not prescribed by composers until the Viennese Classic . The soloist was allowed to prove his skills through his own composition or improvisation ad libitum ; today one usually plays the cadenza composed by the composer.

Agriculture and Animal Testing

In agriculture, the term is used for animal feeding and the associated experiments, if the animals can freely dispose of the amount of water and food at any time, i.e. both are not allocated. Here, ad libitum is used in the sense of “not portioned”.


In Switzerland, the term is used in connection with certain drugs for pain or moribund patients. These are usually highly effective analgesics or intravenously administered morphine . Through ad lib. a daily limit is explicitly lifted on the prescription form.

In the case of an “ad lib.” Prescription, the administering nurse can decide to increase the dose or the application interval if the effect is absent or insufficient, without having to obtain a new prescription from the doctor each time; the “ad lib.” regulation remains in place until revoked by the doctor.

In the care of newborns and premature babies, the term is often used in connection with the nutrition of the child, which removes an upper limit on the amount of food and the child can drink as much as he wants.


In the liturgy , optional elements are marked as ad libitum . This applies, for example, to the sequence of Corpus Christi , but also to the creed on certain days. The Latin name for days of remembrance that is not required is also memoria ad libitum .

Web links

Wiktionary: ad libitum  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Archbishop's Ordinariate Freiburg i. Br. (Ed.): 2018 Directory of the Archdiocese of Freiburg for Mass and Hours Prayer . 2018 ( ).