im·pro·vi·sa·tion | \ (ˌ)im-ˌprä-və-ˈzā-shən , 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, -shə-nᵊl, ˌim-prə-və- alsoˌim-prə-(ˌ)vī- \ adjective
improvisationally adverb

Synonyms for improvisation


ad-lib, extemporization, impromptu, improv

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Examples of improvisation in a Sentence

that comedy skit was a totally unrehearsed improvisation

Recent Examples on the Web

This performance offers the chance to see Ms. Gordon’s edgy improvisations in an intimate setting. New York Times, "14 Pop, Rock and Jazz Concerts to Check Out in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 This morning Chicago art gallery Corbett vs. Dempsey—which also runs a superb record label under the same name, focusing on jazz and improvisation—announced the winners of the first Instant Award in Improvised Music. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Music / Post No Bills New $50,000 prize in improvised music gives its first awards to Joe McPhee and Susan Alcorn," 10 July 2018 This task is accompanied and aided by instrument instruction, band practice, a showcase, a day in the recording studio and songwriting and improvisation workshops. Mónica Marie Zorilla,, "45 affordable summer camps for kids," 5 June 2018 His steady expansion of power over 15 years is a sign of the importance of charisma, staying power and, most importantly, improvisation in a volatile and sharply divided region. Thanassis Cambanis,, "How did Iraq’s Moqtada al-Sadr become a statesman? People just got used to him," 26 May 2018 Also threaded with the spontaneity and improvisation of a funk/rock concert, Golden Child will be an immersive experience, performed in a yet-unnamed Los Angeles venue where the audience will sit in the center. Gail Mitchell, Billboard, "Judith Hill Invites Everyone to 'The Pepper Club': Video Premiere," 18 May 2018 In fact, many of the best saves of this tournament have been acts of improvisation. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "France to Hugo Lloris: Get Back in Goal," 13 July 2018 Her life was its own improvisation, with octave leaps and joyous refrains. Bryan Marquard,, "Rebecca Parris, 66, jazz singer of uncommon range and emotional depth," 19 June 2018 Younger roams more freely in her improvisations than Ashby without forsaking the jazz great’s plush melodic touch. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Brandee Younger picks up the torch of jazz harp pioneers for the hip-hop generation," 31 May 2018

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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Statistics for improvisation

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for improvisation

The first known use of improvisation was in 1777

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More Definitions for improvisation


im·pro·vi·sa·tion | \ im-ˌprä-və-ˈzā-shən \

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).


characteristic trappings or dress

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