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

Keep scrolling for more

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 Interspersed with scenes of feverish jazz improvisation, the film depicts a culture all too rarely represented in American cinema. Jordan Cronk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Picks: A February To-Do List for Film Buffs in L.A.," 3 Feb. 2020 Yet the dramatic piano solo that followed became a forum for vibrant jazz improvisation, Roberts interjecting his own thematic material, then leading his trio in a wholly new section suggesting a late-night blues reverie. Howard Reich,, "Chicago Philharmonic review: Marcus Roberts jazzes Gershwin’s Concerto in F," 6 Dec. 2019 The work takes the form of a structured improvisation, which begins with barely audible sounds but does reach peaks of intensity, using such materials as fishing line, a dog whistle and the inner tube of a tire. New York Times, "Burning Pianos and Whispering Rivers: A Composer’s Journey," 8 Nov. 2019 Bryson Lang incorporates audience participation, ball bouncing and spinning, juggling, improvisation, glow-in-the-dark objects, giant beach balls, and exciting surprises into every show., "Community News For The Enfield Edition," 5 June 2019 That energy made for an improvisation-heavy set, in which Lum would pepper her costars with lines, each more ridiculous than the last, until one sticks. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "‘Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens’ team: Asian-American representation is not a ‘fad’," 22 Jan. 2020 The poster for Ghost, 1990’s top grossing movie, a romance starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, is a great example of artistic improvisation while foregrounding local tastes and mores. Anakwa Dwamena, The New York Review of Books, "Ghana’s Handmade Movie Poster Boom," 18 Jan. 2020 But the interactive performance, which has taken place in Cleveland regularly since 1996, involves improvisation based on audience participation, often leading to hilarious results. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland, "15 things to do in Cleveland on Saturday, Jan. 18," 18 Jan. 2020 The jokes, immediately recognizable to an audience steeped in the subtleties of improvisation, playing the dozens and rich oral tradition, hit big. Ann Hornaday, Houston Chronicle, "Eddie Murphy’s back, baby, in ‘Dolemite Is My Name’," 16 Oct. 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.

See More

First Known Use of improvisation

1777, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about improvisation

Time Traveler for improvisation

Time Traveler

The first known use of improvisation was in 1777

See more words from the same year

Statistics for improvisation

Last Updated

10 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Improvisation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!