Improve vs improv

  • Improve and improv are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. Confusables is a catch-all term for words that are often confused in usage. Two words or more than two words may be confused because they are similar in spelling, similar in pronunciation, or similar in meaning. These commonly confused words may be pronounced the same way or pronounced differently or may be spelled the same way or spelled differently, or may have different meanings or have almost different meanings; they may be homophones, homonyms, heteronyms, words that have a similar spelling, or words that have a similar meaning. Confusables often confound native speakers of English, and they may be difficult for ESL students and those learning English to understand. Confusables are misspelled, misused words and may be nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, or any other part of speech. Spelling rules in English are not dependable; there are many exceptions. Often, the best procedure for learning commonly misused words and commonly confused words in English is to make word lists of English words for the learner to study. A spell checker will rarely find this type of mistake in English vocabulary, so do not rely on spell check but instead, learn to spell and learn the definitions of words. Even a participant in a spelling bee like the National Spelling Bee will ask for an example of a confusable in a sentence, so that she understands which word she is to spell by using context clues. Confusables are often used in wordplay like puns. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables improve and improv, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences.


    Improve means to make something better, to become better, to increase the quality of something or enhance its value. The word improve is a verb; related words are improves, improved, improving, improvement. The word improve is derived from the Anglo-Norman word, emprouwer, meaning to increase the value of something.


    Improv is a term from the performing arts that means to perform an action or speak dialogue that has not been scripted; the action or dialogue is invented on the spot. Improv is a popular comedy art form, often performed on stage or in comedy clubs. The word improv is a noun that it is derived from the word improvisation; it was coined in the 1970s.


    Some research indicates mindfulness meditation practice enhances attention, improves working memory and short-term memory capacity, and even reduces anxiety and depression. (Psychology Today)

    A new study challenges this belief and suggests that orienting and executive functioning improve with age. (Medical News Today)

    “I’ve done improv, little stuff like that, but nothing of this size,” Blanchette said. (Daily Eastern News)

    A spaghetti dinner and improv night benefiting the Marble Falls High School theater department is 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, in the high school commons room. (Daily Tribune)

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