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

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 France's Cannes Film Festival, Austin's SXSW and New York's Tribeca Film Festival have all been shut down and forced to improvise. Jake Coyle, USA TODAY, "Toronto Film Festival scales back with virtual red carpets, outdoor screenings," 24 June 2020 But after they’re attacked by Chronicoms, Deke is kidnapped and Yo-Yo goes looking for him, forcing Coulson to improvise. Christian Holub,, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: The death and life of Agent Sousa," 18 June 2020 This is a quick way to improvise a hammock to get off the ground in wet or bug-infested environments. Popular Science, "Fifteen survival shelters that can save your life," 28 May 2020 So, the Hamilton creator improvised a musical number out of it on the spot. Nick Romano,, "Lin-Manuel Miranda improvises a Conan O’Brien song called ‘OK, Boomer’," 22 Apr. 2020 But even this process is amended, improvised, because these are unusual times. Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, "The first 1,000 U.S.," 12 Apr. 2020 Those who have birthdays during this time aren’t having mass gatherings for birthday parties, so the volleyball team at St. Henry District High School improvised one for one of their own. Alex Harrison,, "Coronavirus: Drive-by birthday parties a new thing for St. Henry girls," 3 Apr. 2020 Villagers also improvised effective means of safely preparing bodies for burial, combining adapted customary practices with safe hygiene. Alex De Waal, The Conversation, "Don’t expect the coronavirus epidemic in the US to bring down President Trump," 18 Mar. 2020 Always, though, the point of the anecdote is the same: Armstrong improvised a joke on his erstwhile jailers and took care not to let them in on it. Nicholas Frankovich, National Review, "Satchmo’s Smile," 9 Jan. 2020

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

Time Traveler for improvise

Time Traveler

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

See more words from the same year

Statistics for improvise

Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Improvise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!