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-, a causative prefix or from em-, + prou "profit," from Latin prode "advantageous" (see proud (adj.)).
Spelling with -v- was rare before 17c.; it apparently arose from confusion of -v- and -u-. Spelling otherwise deformed by influence of words in -prove. Meaning "make better, raise to a better quality or condition" first recorded 1610s. Intransitive sense "get better" is from 1727. 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 survived or was revived in the American colonies and Australia. Hence, "make good use of, occupy (a place) and convert to some purpose."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be."
It forms all or part of: absence; absent; am; Bodhisattva; entity; essence; essential; essive; eu-; eucalyptus; Eucharist; Euclidean; Eudora; Eugene; eugenics; eulogy; Eunice; euphemism; euphoria; euthanasia; homoiousian; improve; interest; is; onto-; Parousia; present (adj.) "existing at the time;" present (n.2) "what is offered or given as a gift;" proud; quintessence; represent; satyagraha; sin; sooth; soothe; suttee; swastika; yes.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit asmi, Hittite eimi, Greek esti-, Latin est, Old Church Slavonic jesmi, Lithuanian esmi, Gothic imi, Old English eom, German ist.
Proto-Indo-European root forming prepositions, etc., meaning "forward," and, by extension, "in front of, before, first, chief, toward, near, against," etc.
It forms all or part of: afford; approach; appropriate; approve; approximate; barbican; before; deprive; expropriate; far; first; for; for-; fore; fore-; forefather; foremost; former (adj.); forth; frame; frau; fret; Freya; fro; froward; from; furnish; furniture; further; galore; hysteron-proteron; impervious; improbity; impromptu; improve; palfrey; par (prep.); para- (1) "alongside, beyond; altered; contrary; irregular, abnormal;" paradise; pardon; paramount; paramour; parvenu; pellucid; per; per-; percent; percussion; perennial; perestroika; perfect; perfidy; perform; perfume; perfunctory; perhaps; peri-; perish; perjury; permanent; permeate; permit; pernicious; perpendicular; perpetual; perplex; persecute; persevere; perspective; perspire; persuasion; pertain; peruse; pervade; pervert; pierce; portray; postprandial; prae-; Prakrit; pre-; premier; presbyter; Presbyterian; preterite; pride; priest; primal; primary; primate; primavera; prime; primeval; primitive; primo; primogenitor; primogeniture; primordial; primus; prince; principal; principle; prior; pristine; private; privilege; privy; pro (n.2) "a consideration or argument in favor;" pro-; probably; probe; probity; problem; proceed; proclaim; prodigal; produce; profane; profess; profile; profit; profound; profuse; project; promise; prompt; prone; proof; proper; property; propinquity; prophet; prose; prostate; prosthesis; protagonist; Protean; protect; protein; Proterozoic; protest; proto-; protocol; proton; protoplasm; Protozoa; proud; prove; proverb; provide; provoke; prow; prowess; proximate; Purana; purchase; purdah; reciprocal; rapprochement; reproach; reprove; veneer.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit pari "around, about, through," parah "farther, remote, ulterior," pura "formerly, before," pra- "before, forward, forth;" Avestan pairi- "around," paro "before;" Hittite para "outside of," Greek peri "around, about, near, beyond," pera "across, beyond," paros "before," para "from beside, beyond," pro "before;" Latin pro "before, for, on behalf of, instead of," porro "forward," prae "before," per "through;" Old Church Slavonic pra-dedu "great-grandfather;" Russian pere- "through;" Lithuanian per "through;" Old Irish ire "farther," roar "enough;" Gothic faura "before," Old English fore (prep.) "before, in front of," (adv.) "before, previously," fram "forward, from," feor "to a great distance, long ago;" German vor "before, in front of;" Old Irish air- Gothic fair-, German ver-, Old English fer-, intensive prefixes.
1650s, "a making or becoming better," from French amélioration, from Old French ameillorer (12c.), from a "to" (see ad-) + meillior (Modern French meìlleur) "to better, repair, improve," from Late Latin meliorare "improve," from Latin melior "better," perhaps originally "stronger," from PIE root *mel- (2) "strong, great."
1550s, "to make better, improve" (transitive), a back-formation from melioration or else from Late Latin melioratus, past participle of meliorare "improve," from Latin melior "better," used as comparative of bonus "good," but probably originally meaning "stronger," from PIE root *mel- (2) "strong, great." Intransitive sense of "to grow better, be improved" is from 1650s. Related: Meliorated; meliorating; meliorative.
c. 1200, "to repair" (clothes, a tool, a building), "remove defects" (from something broken, defaced, deranged, or worn), from a shortened form of Old French amender "correct, set right, make better, improve" (see amend). Meaning "to put right, atone for (faults and errors), amend (one's life), repent" is from c. 1300. Intransitive sense of "to grow better, improve" is from late 14c. Related: Mended; mending.