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Alternative forms[edit]


From Anglo-Norman emprouwer, from Old French en- + prou (profit), from Vulgar Latin prode (advantageous, profitable)


  • IPA(key): /ɪmˈpɹuːv/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -uːv


improve (third-person singular simple present improves, present participle improving, simple past and past participle improved)

  1. (transitive) To make (something) better; to increase the value or productivity (of something).
    Painting the woodwork will improve this house.
    Buying more servers would improve performance.
    • 2013 June 22, “Engineers of a different kind”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 70:
      Private-equity nabobs bristle at being dubbed mere financiers. Piling debt onto companies’ balance-sheets is only a small part of what leveraged buy-outs are about, they insist. Improving the workings of the businesses they take over is just as core to their calling, if not more so. Much of their pleading is public-relations bluster.
  2. (intransitive) To become better.
    I have improved since taking the tablets.
    The error messages have improved since the last version, when they were incomprehensible.
    • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803:
      “My Continental prominence is improving,” I commented dryly. ¶ Von Lindowe cut at a furze bush with his silver-mounted rattan. ¶ “Quite so,” he said as dryly, his hand at his mustache. “I may say if your intentions were known your life would not be worth a curse.”
  3. (obsolete) To disprove or make void; to refute.
    • William Tyndale (1494-1536)
      Neither can any of them make so strong a reason which another cannot improve.
  4. (obsolete) To disapprove of; to find fault with; to reprove; to censure.
    to improve negligence
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Chapman to this entry?)
    • William Tyndale (1494-1536)
      When he rehearsed his preachings and his doing unto the high apostles, they could improve nothing.
  5. (dated) To use or employ to good purpose; to turn to profitable account.
    to improve one's time;  to improve his means
    • Isaac Barrow (1630-1677)
      We shall especially honour God by improving diligently the talents which God hath committed to us.
    • Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
      a hint that I do not remember to have seen opened and improved
    • William Blackstone (1723-1780)
      The court seldom fails to improve the opportunity.
    • Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
      How doth the little busy bee / Improve each shining hour.
    • George Washington (1732-1799)
      True policy, as well as good faith, in my opinion, binds us to improve the occasion.



Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Further reading[edit]

  • "improve" in Raymond Williams, Keywords (revised), 1983, Fontana Press, page 160.