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[im-proov] /ɪmˈpruv/
verb (used with object), improved, improving.
to bring into a more desirable or excellent condition:
He took vitamins to improve his health.
to make (land) more useful, profitable, or valuable by enclosure, cultivation, etc.
to increase the value of (real property) by betterments, as the construction of buildings and sewers.
to make good use of; turn to account:
He improved the stopover by seeing a client with offices there.
verb (used without object), improved, improving.
to increase in value, excellence, etc.; become better:
The military situation is improving.
to make improvements, as by revision, addition, or change:
None of the younger violinists have been able to improve on his interpretation of that work.
Origin of improve
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English improuen, emprouen < Anglo-French emprouer to turn (something) into profit, derivative of phrase en prou into profit, equivalent to en (see en-1) + prou, Old French prou, preu < Late Latin prōde (est), by reanalysis of Latin prōdest (it) is beneficial, of use, with prōde taken as a neuter noun (cf. proud); v by association with prove, approve
Related forms
improvable, adjective
improvability, improvableness, noun
improvably, adverb
improvingly, adverb
preimprove, verb (used with object), preimproved, preimproving.
quasi-improved, adjective
superimproved, adjective
well-improved, adjective
1. amend, emend. Improve, ameliorate, better imply bringing to a more desirable state. Improve usually implies remedying a lack or a felt need: to improve a process, oneself (as by gaining more knowledge ). Ameliorate, a formal word, implies improving oppressive, unjust, or difficult conditions: to ameliorate working conditions. To better is to improve conditions which, though not bad, are unsatisfying: to better an attempt, oneself (gain a higher salary ).
1, 5. worsen. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for improvable
Historical Examples
  • I should apprehend this bog to be among the most improvable in the country.

    A Tour in Ireland Arthur Young
  • The living is valued at £140 a year, but perhaps it may be improvable.

    Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters

    William Austen-Leigh and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh
  • Man is an improvable being, and indefinite progress is the law of his existence.

    Primitive Man Louis Figuier
  • Brother, the wight is improvable, and this must not be borne withal.

    Thomas Otway Thomas Otway
  • Man is an improvable being, and some advancement may be expected in his condition.

  • Therefore, use your government interest for him, for he is improved and improvable.

  • It is unquestionable that these are talents, that is, improvable mercies given by God.

  • It will be more to the point, after have said so much upon improving books, to say a word or two about the improvable reader.

    Stevensoniana Various
  • My object will be to obtain a farm of large acreage and poor land, but improvable by better drainage and an outlay of capital.

    Out on the Pampas G. A. Henty
  • As a whole, the creature appears to be innately the dullest and least improvable of all our servitors.

    Domesticated Animals Nathaniel Southgate Shaler
British Dictionary definitions for improvable


to make or become better in quality; ameliorate
(transitive) to make (buildings, land, etc) more valuable by additions or betterment
(intransitive; usually foll by on or upon) to achieve a better standard or quality in comparison (with): to improve on last year's crop
(Austral, informal) on the improve, improving
Derived Forms
improvable, adjective
improvability, improvableness, noun
improvably, adverb
improver, noun
improvingly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: from Anglo-French emprouer to turn to profit, from en prou into profit, from prou profit, from Late Latin prōde beneficial, from Latin prōdesse to be advantageous, from pro-1 + esse to be
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for improvable



late 15c., "to use to one's profit, to increase (income)," from Anglo-French emprouwer "to turn to profit" (late 13c.), from Old French en-, causative prefix, + prou "profit," from Latin prode "advantageous" (see proud). Spelling with -v- was rare before 17c. Meaning "to raise to a better quality or condition" first recorded 1610s. Phrase improve the occasion retains the etymological sense. Meaning "to turn land to profit" (by clearing it, erecting buildings, etc.) was in Anglo-French (13c.) and was retained in the American colonies.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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