im·​pro·​vise | \ ˈim-prə-ˌvīz also ˌim-prə-ˈvīz How to pronounce improvise (audio) \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from improvise

improviser or improvisor \ ˈim-​prə-​ˌvī-​zər How to pronounce improvisor (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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Mission control had no obvious fix, but the astronauts were old hands at improvising solutions to tricky problems. NBC News, "Apollo 11: Eleven things you never knew about NASA's landmark moon mission," 14 July 2019 This makes him a good fit for an improvising QB such as Russell Wilson. Conor Orr,, "Fantasy Football 2019: 16 Rookies Who Could Make an Impact," 4 July 2019 Jericho showcased his seemingly innate ability to improvise and capitalize upon any opportunity, and his social media posts and videos helped transform the story into a massive gain for the company. Justin Barrasso,, "Cody Rhodes to Challenge Chris Jericho for AEW Title at 'Full Gear'," 5 Sep. 2019 One of his strengths is his ability to improvise and scramble when a play breaks down but that's when a quarterback becomes fair game for on-rushing defenders. Michelle Gardner, azcentral, "ASU quarterback Jayden Daniels lukewarm in own assessment of his first game," 2 Sep. 2019 In aptitude, Roethlisberger warranted a slight edge over Rivers, it could be argued, because of his rare ability to improvise. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: After big deal for Big Ben, what’s Chargers QB Philip Rivers worth?," 20 June 2019 For Your Consideration As with any Christopher Guest film, much of the dialogue and plot of this mockumentary is improvised by the cast. Vogue, "13 Movies You Totally Forgot Were Set on Thanksgiving," 22 Nov. 2018 Our cars, our tents, and ourselves improvised a city, 22nd largest in the United States, and the fact of this city, its weather, its privations, its confusion, and its civility, dominated our senses. Philip P. Ardery Jr., National Review, "Upon a Time in Woodstock," 10 Aug. 2019 People can meet up and hang out and improvise in VR, so the information exchange is real and not illusory. Michael Calore, WIRED, "Strap on Your Exoskeleton and Dance, Dance, Dance," 30 July 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about improvise

Statistics for improvise

Last Updated

25 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for improvise

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on improvise

What made you want to look up improvise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!