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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Few of Jones’ runs against Tennessee were designed, but his ability to improvise and make plays with this feet has never been questioned. Edgar Thompson,, 26 Sep. 2021 When problems or opportunities present themselves, the team's ability to improvise, create new pathways and act by making decisions quickly can be a strong promoter of resiliency, especially in times of uncertainty. Expert Panel®, Forbes, 20 Sep. 2021 Salazar has been reliable behind center and showed an ability to improvise and turn negative plays into first downs, while the defense has been solid through the first four weeks of the season. Zach Mason, San Antonio Express-News, 18 Sep. 2021 In his second game of the season against Santa Margarita, Crum put his potential and ability to improvise on display. Luca Evans, Los Angeles Times, 10 Sep. 2021 Now a consultant on the show, GaTa provides a great deal of creative input on his character, also noting that both the network and Burd encourage him to improvise takes. Ethan Shanfeld, Variety, 30 Aug. 2021 Yvonne Ng, a senior consultant at the neonatology department at National University Hospital, told the newspaper that the tiny size of the patient meant that the staff could not use standard forms of care, and had to improvise. Washington Post, 7 Aug. 2021 Jackson has shown his athleticism and his ability to improvise and make plays in the first three years. Mike Preston,, 10 Aug. 2021 Francesca Zambello, the general and artistic director of the Glimmerglass Festival, knows how to improvise. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 18 Aug. 2021

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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Time Traveler for improvise

Time Traveler

The first known use of improvise was in 1788

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Last Updated

9 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Improvise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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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 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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