in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Definition of invoke

transitive verb

1a : to petition for help or support
b : to appeal to or cite as authority
2 : to call forth by incantation : conjure
3 : to make an earnest request for : solicit
4 : to put into effect or operation : implement

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Other Words from invoke

invoker noun

evoke or invoke?

Don’t feel bad if you have difficulty remembering the difference between evoke and invoke, as the words are quite similar in many ways and have considerable overlap in meaning. However, the words do differ, and you would not want to substitute one for the other. Invoke is used of putting into effect or calling upon such things as laws, authority, or privilege (“the principal invoked a rule forbidding students from asking questions”). Evoke is primarily used in the sense “to call forth or up” and is often found in connection with such things as memories, emotions, or sympathy.

Examples of invoke in a Sentence

Nietzsche is so complex that he can be invoked in support of many outlooks, some of them brutal or nihilistic. — Thomas Nagel, New Republic, 14 Jan. 2002 There are some people who commit murder as a way of invoking the death penalty. Capital punishment can sometimes, then, be equivalent to suicide. — George Freeman Solomon, People, 17 Jan. 1977 We began poring over the typewritten recipes at the dining room table, where I foolishly invoked the name of Julia Child … — Gael Greene, New York, 13 Sept. 1971 He invoked the memory of his predecessor. She invoked history to prove her point. He invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges. The suspect invoked his right to an attorney. invoke the authority of the court
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Recent Examples on the Web In the past year, researchers invoked the blobs to solve two long-standing puzzles there. Quanta Magazine, "Continents of the Underworld Come Into Focus," 7 Jan. 2020 Many of her paintings include circular elements that echo the shape of the planet while colors and swirling brushwork invoke the rhythmic motion of the sea. Jeannie Denholm, Orange County Register, "Artistic Vision: Layered meaning in Ann Phong’s images," 18 Dec. 2019 The Marlins then responded and invoked Irwin’s death to tell the Rays to log off. Andrew Joseph, For The Win, "Marlins apologize for invoking Steve Irwin's death in Twitter feud with the Rays," 5 Aug. 2019 Mindfulness and meditation These days, mindfulness and meditation can often seem like little more than buzzwords invoked by wellness bloggers, yoga studios, and self-help programs eager to capture new clientele. Sponsored Content With Pure Farmaceuticals, Houston Chronicle, "6 Natural Ways to Treat Anxiety," 29 July 2019 In a meeting where God and government intrusion were invoked, a Florida Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday that would require minors to obtain permission from their parents before having abortions. Christine Sexton,, "Abortion parental consent bill clears key Florida Senate committee," 10 Dec. 2019 An earlier witness said that Bolton abruptly shut down the meeting as soon as the investigations were invoked. Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, azcentral, "Impeachment inquiry: Kurt Volker testifies he worked to connect Trump, new Ukraine leader," 19 Nov. 2019 That server was invoked by Trump because CrowdStrike company assisted the Democratic National Committee in investigating a 2016 hack by Russian operatives who were trying to influence the presidential elections. Ana Radelat,, "Rep. Jim Himes: Trump used worse than ‘mob boss’ language to attack ex-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch," 15 Nov. 2019 Article 5, which says that an attack on one is an attack on all, was never invoked during the four decades of the Cold War. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "Turkey, NATO, and a Shifting World," 7 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'invoke.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of invoke

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for invoke

Middle English envoken, from Middle French invoquer, from Latin invocare, from in- + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice — more at voice

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Time Traveler for invoke

Time Traveler

The first known use of invoke was in the 15th century

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Statistics for invoke

Last Updated

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invoke.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 28 January 2020.

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More Definitions for invoke


How to pronounce invoke (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of invoke

: to mention (someone or something) in an attempt to make people feel a certain way or have a certain idea in their mind
: to refer to (something) in support of your ideas
: to make use of (a law, a right, etc.)


in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Kids Definition of invoke

1 : to ask for aid or protection (as in prayer)
2 : to call forth by magic invoke spirits
3 : to appeal to as an authority or for support She invoked the Sunday rule as soon as he returned from the skateboard park and a family outing was launched.— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Legal Definition of invoke

1 : to appeal to as furnishing authority or motive
2 : to put into legal effect or call for the observance of : enforce invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege
3 : to introduce or put into operation invoking economic sanctions
4 : to be the cause of regulations that invoke problems in enforcement

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More from Merriam-Webster on invoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for invoke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with invoke

Spanish Central: Translation of invoke

Nglish: Translation of invoke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of invoke for Arabic Speakers

Comments on invoke

What made you want to look up invoke? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


showing steady, earnest care and effort

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