Improvise vs. Improvize – Which Is Correct?

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

When you make your monologue up as you go along, do you improvise or improvize? When I’m writing a book without an outline, am I improvising or improvizing? Some words can end in -ise and -ize depending on one’s preference. But improvise or improvize is not one of them.So how do you spell this word?

I’ll show you this verb’s definition, correct spelling, and pronunciation. You’ll also learn how to use improvise in a sentence.

What Is Improvise?

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The word improvise is a verb that means to compose, recite, or sing extemporaneously. For example:

  • The artist improvised the lyrics to this song.

It can also mean to invent, arrange, or invent offhand. For example:

  • I improvised the entire monologue onstage.

This verb also means to fabricate or make out of what is conveniently on hand. For example:

  • Dad improvised this meal because there were no ingredients left.

Common Synonyms of Improvise 

  • Ad-lib
  • Extemporize
  • Execute
  • Perform
  • Do
  • Speak impromptu
  • Make it up as one goes along
  • Think on one’s feet
  • Contrive
  • Take it as it comes
  • Speak off the cuff

Improvise comes from the Italian word improvisare, which means to sing extemporaneously. It also comes from the Latin word improviso, which means unforeseen or unexpected.

Is It Improvise or Improvize?

The correct spelling in all official dictionaries is improvise. Many might think that improvise is the British English spelling, while improvize is the American English spelling. This spelling pattern is common among words like realize, analyze, organize, stabilize, and criticize.

These examples are simply a matter of preference or referring to a house style. But when it comes to improvise, the spelling has no alternatives.

Even American English dictionaries list improvise as the correct spelling. It’s like the word exercise, which cannot be exercize, or supervise, which cannot be supervize. Other examples of verbs that always end in -ise are advertise, compromise, devise, disguise, and revise.

Other words derived from improvise include improviser, improvisatory, and improvisation. The word improv also exists, which means the art form of creating a scene on stage without a script.

How to Pronounce Improvise

The correct pronunciation of the verb improvise is im-pruh-vize.

Improvise Examples in a Sentence

Here are some examples of improvise in sentences.

  • We don’t have the right tools for this project. We need to improvise.
  • Can you improvise a diagram or model out of these boxes and papers?
  • She’s so artistic that she can improvise a crown out of sticks.
  • The musicians and songwriters need to improvise on the melody.
  • The king improvised his speech at the last minute.

These passages from news articles also show the proper use of improvise in sentences.

  • Either way, we improvise every day to deal with the errors that disrupt our agendas. It’s forced improv. It’s “A Comedy of Errors.” [Times Record News]
  • Aneesa Folds, from Broadway’s Freestyle Love Supreme, and the new Trading Places musical which premiered at The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, GA earlier this year, is joining the cast of Shitzprobe to improvise a full musical on the spot based on a title made up by the audience! [Broadway World]
  • Given the windy conditions are set to pick up throughout the weekend, with gusts between 40kph and 50kph expected, Albon says the team will “need to improvise” if they want to improve their chances. [Racing News 365]

But some news websites still use the incorrect spelling, improvize. For example:

  • The Outlook for Windows has been designed to provide a contemporary yet familiar Outlook experience for the users which will help the users to improvize their personal productivity and email organisation for users. [India TV News]
  • It showcases the players of the Delhi Capitals team having a discussion at length about how they can improvize their game and during that discussion they hear the crunch of Cornitos Nacho Crisps that are now available at an economical price of Rs10. [Live Mint]
  • This allowed the Nazarians to decapitate in gorier fashion, including using TVs and appliances in the mansion, knives in their boots, and brilliant teamwork to improvize and maim the LA nest. [CBR]

Improvise Is the Only Correct Spelling

Improvise vs. improvize is a common confusion among English writers. But I hope my guide has clarified to you the correct, and more common, spelling: improvise.

Both British and American English spellings recognize this single spelling as the accurate one. Use the verb when showing someone who is extemporizing or speaking impromptu.