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 Local troupes Impro Theatre and Company of Angels join forces to improvise a show inspired by classic film noir tropes and Los Angeles history in this one-night-only livestream event. Los Angeles Times, "5 SoCal shows to see in person, plus the best culture streaming this weekend," 29 Apr. 2021 There are two types of cooks: those who slavishly follow recipes, and those who gleefully improvise, viewing recipes as constraints on the creativity that lies at the heart of serving up terrific food. Barry Estabrook, WSJ, "What to Read This Spring: The Best Books on Food," 8 Apr. 2021 Longo agrees patients should not improvise and says fasting needs more clinical testing. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, "Special diets might boost the power of drugs to vanquish cancers," 1 Apr. 2021 Jones throws into tight windows, and has enough athleticism to improvise. Omar Kelly,, "Miami Dolphins’ NFL draft options: Quarterbacks," 1 Apr. 2021 Still, Wilson showed throughout 2020 a strong arm, good mobility and footwork and the ability to improvise when needed in leading BYU to an 11-1 season. J.p. Pelzman, Forbes, "New York Jets NFL Draft Preview: Yet Another Fresh Start At Quarterback After Darnold Trade," 21 Apr. 2021 Try to improvise a weapon using nearby items such as chairs, fire extinguishers or scissors. Leanza Abucayan, CNN, "In the age of active shooters, a new mantra has emerged: 'Run. Hide. Fight.'," 18 Apr. 2021 Music and comedy are all about timing and jazz is about being able to improvise, pulling from that same creative spot in your mind. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Eric Andre Talks Epic 'Bad Trip' Movie, Chilling With Borat and Tasing Rappers," 30 Mar. 2021 Known for her emails to players and coaches following every game, Sister Jean Schmidt had to improvise after her email apparently went awry during her stay in Indiana to watch her eight-seeded Loyola-Chicago Ramblers. USA TODAY, "March Madness live updates: The scores and moments you need to know from Saturday at men's NCAA Tournament," 20 Mar. 2021

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

6 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Improvise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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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 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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