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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Facing the realities of a land war in the country, farmers have been forced to improvise, but time is running out, Alex Lissitsa, a leading businessman and president of the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, told ABC News. Guy Davies, ABC News, 13 Apr. 2022 Even though the video was carefully storyboarded, everyone was encouraged to improvise and have fun with it. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 1 Apr. 2022 Casarosa cast Tremblay for the innocence and curiosity inherent in his voice and allowed the actor to improvise and change lines to suit his own way of speaking. Zoe Hewitt, Variety, 10 Mar. 2022 Unable to keep up with official guidelines that constantly change, employees at care homes have had to improvise, finding makeshift quarantine rooms for both residents and co-workers. Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2022 To his credit, Fosse encouraged York to spend a week with Minnelli and writer Hugh Wheeler to improvise together and flesh out the part. Ryan Gajewski, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Feb. 2022 Escobar and her collaborators, however, found ways to improvise and complete the work. Los Angeles Times, 13 Nov. 2021 The ambiguity leaves building owners to improvise and guess. Justin Davidson, Curbed, 14 Sep. 2021 Yeoh had to improvise, testing out various approaches in real time. New York Times, 15 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of improvise was in 1788

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Last Updated

24 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Improvise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for improvise


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

More from Merriam-Webster on improvise

Nglish: Translation of improvise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of improvise for Arabic Speakers


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