im·​pro·​vi·​sa·​tion | \ (ˌ)im-ˌprä-və-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce improvisation (audio) , ˌim-prə-və- also ˌim-prə-(ˌ)vī- \

Definition of improvisation

1 : the act or art of improvising
2 : something (such as a musical or dramatic composition) improvised

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Other Words from improvisation

improvisational \ (ˌ)im-​ˌprä-​və-​ˈzā-​shnəl How to pronounce improvisational (audio) , -​shə-​nᵊl , ˌim-​prə-​və-​ also  ˌim-​prə-​(ˌ)vī-​ \ adjective
improvisationally adverb

Examples of improvisation in a Sentence

that comedy skit was a totally unrehearsed improvisation
Recent Examples on the Web What happened next was a mix of confusion and improvisation. Denise Lu, New York Times, "An Overlooked Danger: School Shootings After Hours," 6 Jan. 2020 Ward’s unusual instrumentation, unorthodox sonorities and intricately layered music-making give listeners a great deal to ponder amid all the hyperactive improvisation. Howard Reich,, "Best jazz albums of 2019: Dee Alexander, Miguel Zenon and Anat Cohen Tentet had a very good year," 27 Nov. 2019 Tischler, in true vaudevillian fashion, deftly turned that miscue into a laugh-out-loud improvisation. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, "Olney Theatre Center’s ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ pours on the showmanship," 20 Nov. 2019 Indeed, cadenza is a music term that connotes improvisation — how the work of a soloist enhances and contributes to an orchestra’s overall performance. David Holahan,, "Profiles in Connecticut innovation: High-energy Cadenza makes power storage more efficient," 8 Nov. 2019 Allen recalls with glee the improvisation of both Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell. Byron Burton, The Hollywood Reporter, "DreamWorks "Screwed Up:" Why Cult Classic 'Galaxy Quest' Wasn't a Bigger Hit," 24 Dec. 2019 Croker stayed ruminative but peppered his solo with rhythmic motifs that King picked up in his own improvisation. Michael J. West, Washington Post, "Theo Croker and his band prove that jazz has a healthy heartbeat," 19 Sep. 2019 But Jackson is an instinctive player, and sometimes his improvisation makes his coaches cringe and the M&T Bank Stadium crowd roar. Jonas Shaffer,, "Lamar Jackson flashes fancy footwork as Ravens secure 15th straight preseason win, 26-13 over Packers," 16 Aug. 2019 His improvisations are wanders through thickets, not lost but absorbed in the harmonic brush, picking up whatever is available. Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: L.A. needs a summer music festival. Piano Spheres and Monday Evening Concerts show the way," 30 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'improvisation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of improvisation

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for improvisation

Time Traveler

The first known use of improvisation was in 1777

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Statistics for improvisation

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Improvisation.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for improvisation


im·​pro·​vi·​sa·​tion | \ im-ˌprä-və-ˈzā-shən How to pronounce improvisation (audio) \

Kids Definition of improvisation

1 : the act or art of speaking or performing without practicing or preparing ahead of time
2 : something that is improvised

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Comments on improvisation

What made you want to look up improvisation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


dull or mediocre

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