verb (used with object), im·proved, im·prov·ing.

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), im·proved, im·prov·ing.

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

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 formsim·prov·a·ble, adjectiveim·prov·a·bil·i·ty, im·prov·a·ble·ness, nounim·prov·a·bly, adverbim·prov·ing·ly, adverbpre·im·prove, verb (used with object), pre·im·proved, pre·im·prov·ing.qua·si-im·proved, adjectivesu·per·im·proved, adjectivewell-im·proved, adjective

Synonyms for improve

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 ).

Antonyms for improve

1, 5. worsen. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for improvable

Historical Examples of improvable

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for improvable



to make or become better in quality; ameliorate
(tr) to make (buildings, land, etc) more valuable by additions or betterment
(intr; usually foll by on or upon) to achieve a better standard or quality in comparison (with)to improve on last year's crop


on the improve Australian informal improving
Derived Formsimprovable, adjectiveimprovability or improvableness, nounimprovably, adverbimprover, nounimprovingly, adverb

Word Origin for improve

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

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