Ad hoc

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This article is about the Latin phrase. For other uses, see Ad hoc (disambiguation).

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning "for this". In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes (compare with a priori).

Common examples are ad hoc organizations, committees, and commissions created at the national or international level for a specific task. In other fields, the term could refer, for example, to a military unit created under special circumstances, a tailor-made suit, a handcrafted network protocol, or a purpose-specific equation.

Ad hoc can also mean makeshift solutions, shifting contexts to create new meanings, inadequate planning, or improvised events.


According to The Chicago Manual of Style, familiar Latin phrases that are listed in Merriam-Webster, such as "ad hoc", should not be italicized.[1][2]

Ad hoc hypothesis[edit]

Main article: Ad hoc hypothesis

In science and philosophy, ad hoc means the addition of extraneous hypotheses to a theory to save it from being falsified. Ad hoc hypotheses compensate for anomalies not anticipated by the theory in its unmodified form.

Scientists are often skeptical of scientific theories that rely on frequent, unsupported adjustments to sustain them. Ad hoc hypotheses are often characteristic of pseudoscientific subjects such as homeopathy.[3]

Ad hoc in the military[edit]

In the military, ad hoc units are created during unpredictable situations, when the cooperation between different units is suddenly needed for fast action.

Ad hoc networking[edit]

The term ad hoc networking typically refers to a system of network elements that combine to form a network requiring little or no planning.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "When to italicize foreign words and phrases". 23 February 2012. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  2. ^ "Italics". The Economist. Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  3. ^ Carroll, Robert T. (23 February 2012), "Ad hoc hypothesis", The Skeptic's Dictionary, John Wiley & Sons, retrieved 27 May 2013 

Further reading[edit]

  • Howard, R. (2002), Smart Mobs: the Next Social Revolution, Perseus 

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of ad hoc at Wiktionary