im·​pro·​vise | \ ˈim-prə-ˌvīz How to pronounce improvise (audio) 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 How to pronounce improvise (audio) , 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 Journalist Mark Maxwell posted a video of it on Twitter and noted that Miller didn't slip up or improvise her praise of Hitler, but instead read from prepared remarks. Elly Belle,, "Nazis Stormed The Capitol. Why Are People Afraid To Call Them That?," 8 Jan. 2021 Her experience shooting documentaries, often in conflict zones amid unstable conditions, taught Kirsten how to improvise and make the most of unexpected situations. Steve Dollar, Los Angeles Times, "‘Dick Johnson Is Dead’: Filmmaker’s wildly inventive take on her father’s dementia," 4 Jan. 2021 Stewart remembers making hearty stews from scratch, too, although he wouldn’t be allowed to improvise like that these days and keep the contract. Jeff Winkler, The Atlantic, "The Art of Cooking While Everything Burns," 30 Dec. 2020 The outbreaks have hit skid row especially hard, forcing the county to improvise. Doug Smith Senior Writer, Los Angeles Times, "L.A. homeless sites ‘overwhelmed’ by COVID-19, putting more stress on healthcare system," 3 Jan. 2021 Using deep learning and data sets of both words and units of pronunciation, a musical bot called Shimon can improvise responses to a human rapper. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, "From Rapping Robots to Glowing Frogs: Our Favorite Fun Stories of 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 The naked-but-for-body-paint dance troupe being late, the students, attired in black turtlenecks and slacks, were asked to improvise some moves. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, "Singing, Spieling, and Shvitzing on the Low Cut Connie Live Stream," 21 Dec. 2020 Some have found ways to improvise a modicum of comfort. Caitlin Dickerson, New York Times, "Inside the Refugee Camp on America’s Doorstep," 23 Oct. 2020 Messersmith said Ottman's skills and ability to improvise live were staggering. Rochelle Olson Star Tribune, Star Tribune, "Violinist Leah Ottman, who played with many Twin Cities musicians, dies at 33," 14 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for improvise

Time Traveler

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

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Statistics for improvise

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Improvise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for improvise


How to pronounce improvise (audio)

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 How to pronounce improvise (audio) \
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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