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

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 The line was apparently improvised by a kid visiting the set that day, and Hemsworth delivers it with a kid’s exuberance, capturing the joy of a genre expectation fulfilled. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "The best superhero stories admit that superheroes are ridiculous," 11 July 2018 The play is structured around a series of scenes or scenarios that change based on the actions of the audience, which the actors improvise off of accordingly. Henry J. Morgan, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Colgate 'Underground Railroad' production is part play, part escape room, part golf course," 6 July 2018 Hader tells The Associated Press that James is an absolute natural on-camera, even improvising. Andrew Dalton, The Seattle Times, "Will LA mean LeBron behind the scenes and on the big screen?," 3 July 2018 The character was born while the star improvised on a live show. Hal Boedeker,, "Fred Rogers: Tears for a TV trailblazer," 13 June 2018 There are many genres of film, and an improvising musician needs to be familiar with as many as possible. Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, "From behind the piano, an eclectic improviser sets the tone for silent movies," 7 June 2018 The cast are conceived as clowns, improvising scenery and costumes, and using stock theatrical devices, pantomime vaudeville and varied musical styles to interpret one of humanity's greatest events. Maria Shine Stewart,, "Float over some drab days with song and hope: Sun Messages," 8 Apr. 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

23 Oct 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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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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