spur of the moment: meaning and explanation

If you do something on the spur of the moment, you do it spontaneously.

You didn’t plan to do it, but have decided to do it on impulse (another synonym of spontaneously!). e.g. I rarely do things on the spur of the moment, but I woke up this morning and decided to quit my job.

Spurs were the metal attachments that horse riders used to wear on their boots. These were used to quickly ‘encourage’ the horse to move or to increase their speed.

This is where the metaphorical use comes from – when you do something on the spur of the moment, it is like something has suddenly motivated you (or spurred you) into doing something.

Have a go at this dictation exercise to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Dictation #1

Accent: Northern England

I the lottery, a ticket the spur .
I don't do the lottery, I bought a ticket on the spur the moment.

…I bought a ticket…

Notice the pronunciation of the words ‘bought’ and ‘ticket’ – the final ‘t’ sound is dropped and pronounced as a ‘glottal stop’ which can make the word hard to identify.

Discussion questions

Write your answers to these questions in the comments section, and I’ll get back to you with some feedback:

  • When was the last time you did something on the spur of the moment?
  • Are you a spontaneous person? If not, do you wish you were?

Photo by Scott Warman on Unsplash

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