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[im-pruh-vahyz] /ˈɪm prəˌvaɪz/
verb (used with object), improvised, improvising.
to compose and perform or deliver without previous preparation; extemporize:
to improvise an acceptance speech.
to compose, play, recite, or sing (verse, music, etc.) on the spur of the moment.
to make, provide, or arrange from whatever materials are readily available:
We improvised a dinner from yesterday's leftovers.
verb (used without object), improvised, improvising.
to compose, utter, execute, or arrange anything extemporaneously:
When the actor forgot his lines he had to improvise.
Origin of improvise
1820-30; < French improviser, or its source, Italian improvisare (later improvvisare), verbal derivative of improviso improvised < Latin imprōvīsus, equivalent to im- im-2 + prōvīsus past participle of prōvidēre to see beforehand, prepare, provide for (a future circumstance). See proviso
Related forms
improviser, improvisor, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for improvise
  • It allows users to compose, conduct and improvise original music.
  • The failures of wired combat are forcing troops to improvise a new, socially networked kind of war.
  • No one really understands how to use the machine, so people essentially improvise.
  • Use them to catch rain, cut three holes to improvise a rain poncho, or windproof your shelter.
  • It's the kind of game that asks players to improvise and act silly.
  • Jazz musicians throw away the melody when they improvise.
  • So long as they keep to the framework, both singer and player may embellish and improvise.
  • Musicologists showed interest, although the band's sprawling repertoire and tendency to improvise posed a significant challenge.
  • Dissent is encouraged, so war aims and strategies are honed through argument, and junior officers can improvise.
  • He is a consummate professional, always prepared yet ready to improvise.
British Dictionary definitions for improvise


to perform or make quickly from materials and sources available, without previous planning
to perform (a poem, play, piece of music, etc), composing as one goes along
Derived Forms
improviser, noun
Word Origin
C19: from French, from Italian improvvisare, from Latin imprōvīsus unforeseen, from im- (not) + prōvīsus, from prōvidēre to foresee; see provide
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for improvise

1826, back-formation from improvisation, or else from French improviser (17c.), from Italian improvisare "to sing or speak extempore," from improviso, from Latin improvisus "unforeseen, unexpected" (see improvisation). Or possibly a back-formation from improvisation. Related: Improvised; improvising.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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