improvImprov. n. (slang). A theatrical, musical or dance performance that does not use a pre-decided script.

v. (neologism) The act of performing improv.

Etymology: A clipping of the word “improvisation.” The word “improvisation” was borrowed from the french word “improviser” which came from the latin word “improvisus” meaning “unforeseen.”

Sociolectal information: Used by both performers and viewers. The word  came from “improvisation” but it more specifically refers to a type of improvisation (performance based). The Oxford English dictionary has “improv” as a noun dating back to 1953, but does not have “improv” the verb listed at all. The verb form of the word is a lot a newer and is generally used more by the performers themselves than the viewers.

Survival predictions: This word is generally well-recognized. It is also easy to say, and the meaning is easy to interpret. Therefore, I believe it will survive.

Lexopinion: Due to similarities in spelling and pronunciation, the word may be confused with “improve” even though the two have no relation in meaning. For instance, many cell phones autocorrect the word “improv” to “improve.” A woman named commented on the merriam-Webster definition page of “improv” saying, “I WAS SEND A COMMENT USING THE WORD ‘IMPROV’ AND IT KEPT AUTO-CORRECTING TO READ ‘IMPROVE.'” However, “improve” does not have a negative connotation so possible confusion may not matter.


  1. rjmchale says:

    I like your definition, I think it’s very well thought out and accurate! One thing I might add would be to make who is saying the word more in depth. For example, is the noun more common with older generations? Are younger people more likely to use it as a verb? I also think it would be interesting to explore the popularity of the verb and its ability to become more commonplace considering its newness as compared to the noun.

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