im·​pro·​vise | \ˈim-prə-ˌvīz also ˌim-prə-ˈvīz \
improvised; improvising

Definition of improvise 

transitive verb

1 : to compose, recite, play, or sing extemporaneously

2 : to make, invent, or arrange offhand the quarterback improvised a play

3 : to make or fabricate out of what is conveniently on hand improvise a meal

intransitive verb

: to improvise something

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Other Words from improvise

improviser or improvisor \ˈim-​prə-​ˌvī-​zər, ˌim-​prə-​ˈvī-​ \ noun

Examples of improvise in a Sentence

If you forget any of your lines, try to improvise. Good jazz musicians know how to improvise. He had to improvise his opening speech when he forgot his notes. The trumpet player performed an improvised solo. I wasn't expecting guests, so I had to improvise a meal with what I had in my refrigerator.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But, when work commitments got in the way of things, he was forced to improvise and ended up proposing in their living room instead. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Who is Karl Glusman? Zoë Kravtiz Confirms She's Been Secretly Engaged to the Actor For Months," 30 Oct. 2018 But users quickly improvised, re-posting screenshots from others’ Stories on their own, often with annotations or comments. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "‘Stories’ was Instagram’s smartest move yet," 8 Aug. 2018 Apple had set aside a room for pumping—but Pohl had already improvised. Jenna Sauers, Harper's BAZAAR, "Why Women Really Quit Breastfeeding," 17 July 2018 Footage of their session has finally surfaced online, with Flea on the bass, and Paak on percussion, improvising through a psychedelic eight-minute set of improvised, fluid instrumental jazz funk. Mackenzie Cummings-grady, Billboard, "Flea & Anderson .Paak Collaborate on a Psychedelic Jam Session in Buenos Aires: Watch," 31 May 2018 Even here, there are places where McCarthy, obviously improvising, is funny. Bill Goodykoontz, azcentral, "Melissa McCarthy's 'Life of the Party' fails on all fronts," 10 May 2018 Without the resources to get to a real studio, Harper improvised by recording herself rapping into her phone. Gerrick D. Kennedy,, "Rising rapper Saweetie is one to watch this year," 10 Apr. 2018 Young’s recollection of King improvising fake eulogies with tongue-in-cheek jokes about the individual being eulogized is among the highlights, along with several other details outlined in the film. Andreas Hale, The Root, "HBO’s Documentary King in the Wilderness Is a Chilling Portrait of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Final 18 Months on Earth," 15 Feb. 2018 His metronome was a hit with composers, among them his friend Ludwig von Beethoven who, caught in a rare whimsical mood, improvised a tune in honor of Maelzel’s machine. Paul Grimstad, The New Republic, "Can You Measure How Good a Song Is?," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'improvise.' 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 improvise

1788, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for improvise

French improviser, from Italian improvvisare, from improvviso sudden, from Latin improvisus, literally, unforeseen, from in- + provisus, past participle of providēre to see ahead — more at provide

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Statistics for improvise

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for improvise

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

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More Definitions for improvise



English Language Learners Definition of improvise

: to speak or perform without preparation

: to make or create (something) by using whatever is available


im·​pro·​vise | \ˈim-prə-ˌvīz \
improvised; improvising

Kids Definition of improvise

1 : to speak or perform without preparing ahead of time I improvised a song on the spot.

2 : to make, invent, or arrange by using whatever is available … Cluny sat beneath an awning that had been improvised from the damaged tent.— Brian Jacques, Redwall

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Comments on improvise

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