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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Berhalter refused to alter his approach under that onslaught, asking his players to continue to work on passing through the press and to solve the problems presented, rather than alter their focus or improvise. Brian Straus,, "For USMNT, Two Very Different Friendlies With One Set of Prevalent Themes," 11 Sep. 2019 When Myles Kitt-Denton is improvising, Dawson’s designed plays often take a back seat to its quarterback’s versatility. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "Football: Dawson’s fast start sinks Summer Creek, 44-20," 6 Sep. 2019 None of it is easy — King Crimson is famous for unusual rhythmic timing, busy arrangements that touch on classical and jazz and complicated solos that are both choreographed and improvised. Steve Knopper,, "After almost four decades, there is still no room for error in the work of King Crimson," 5 Sep. 2019 True freshman receiver David Ellis was another highlight, showing dynamic ability on kickoff returns and improvising on a two-point conversion, finding his first two options unavailable and discovering a new one: tight end Peyton Hendershot. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Rocket-armed Michael Penix might just lift IU football to new heights," 31 Aug. 2019 The exiled cub is then befriended by Timon (Billy Eichner, improvising amusingly) and Pumbaa (Seth Rogen), a meerkat and a warthog who escort him to their Edenic jungle home. N.b., The Economist, "“The Lion King” remake opts for style over substance," 19 July 2019 War refugees escaping violence, by contrast, must trudge their wretched roads in rubber flip-flops, dress loafers, dusty sandals, high-heeled pumps, booties improvised from rags, etc. Paul Salopek, National Geographic, "A storyteller chronicles the mass migrations that define our age," 17 July 2019 Glass is hard to control, so, often artists improvise as their works develop organically, bending their creativity to match where the material takes them. Liz Logan, Smithsonian, "The Spectacle and Drama of Netflix’s New Glassblowing Show Will Shatter Your Expectations," 13 July 2019 Random business improvised on the spot can’t compete with the pleasures and beauties of the ballet moves and pantomimic details that Bournonville devised to advance the plots of his ballets. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘The Bournonville Legacy’ Review: Excerpts From a Ballet Master," 11 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.

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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 2019

Time Traveler for improvise

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

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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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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).


not being in agreement or harmony

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