Definition of improvise in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈimprəˌvīz/


[with object]
1Create and perform (music, drama, or verse) spontaneously or without preparation: the ability to improvise operatic arias in any given style [no object]: he was improvising to a backing of guitar chords
More example sentences
  • At many of these events, advanced students spontaneously improvise solos or duets based on a theme given by audience members.
  • Clark says audiences are more open to improvised music than people think.
  • Sometimes improvised music seems like a selfish display of skills.
extemporize, ad lib, speak impromptu
informal speak off the cuff, speak off the top of one's head, wing it
jam, scat
impromptu, unrehearsed, unprepared, unscripted, extempore, extemporized, spontaneous, unplanned
informal off-the-cuff, ad-libbed, spur-of-the-moment
1.1Produce or make (something) from whatever is available: I improvised a costume for myself out of an old blue dress
More example sentences
  • Their son, who is five, is able to improvise a whole range of superheroes from whatever is lying around the house.
  • Overtaken by the darkness, he had thrown his force into some of the houses and improvised a sort of fort.
  • So Bob improvised his meals based off whatever he could find being cooked on the line, or stored in the icebox.
contrive, devise, throw together, cobble together, rig up
informal whip up, rustle up
makeshift, thrown together, cobbled together, rough and ready, crude, make-do, temporary, jerry-built, jury-rigged, slapdash



Pronunciation: /imˈprävizəˌtôrē/
Example sentences
  • His performances were often freely given late at night, off-the-cuff, with an improvisatory air.
  • When she is ready to begin, it begins; the process is spontaneous and improvisatory.
  • There is scarcely a single field in music that has remained unaffected by improvisation, scarcely a single musical technique or form of composition that did not originate in improvisatory practice.


Pronunciation: /ˈimprəˌvīzər/
Example sentences
  • From 1974 until about 1990, a large part of my compositional time was spent devising music for improvisers, what I now call ‘game pieces.’
  • San Francisco's Mimi Fox will discuss and demonstrate her guitar style while Chicago's Wheatbread Johnson will invite beginners and improvisers to play around with Chicago blues.
  • The improvisers must be quick of thought, but also high in energy; they must remain on high alert for hours, allowing them to react with some confidence and, hopefully, some humour.


Early 19th century (earlier (late 18th century) as improvisation): from French improviser or its source, Italian improvvisare, from improvviso 'extempore', from Latin improvisus 'unforeseen', based on provisus, past participle of providere 'make preparation for'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: im·pro·vise

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