in·ven·tion | \in-ˈven(t)-shən \

Definition of invention 

1a : something invented: such as

(1) : a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment

(2) : a product of the imagination especially : a false conception

b : a short keyboard composition featuring two- or three-part counterpoint

2 : the act or process of inventing

3 : productive imagination : inventiveness

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Synonyms & Antonyms for invention


fable, fabrication, fantasy (also phantasy), fiction, figment


fact, materiality, reality

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What is the difference between innovation and invention?

The words innovation and invention overlap semantically but are really quite distinct.

Invention can refer to a type of musical composition, a falsehood, a discovery, or any product of the imagination. The sense of invention most likely to be confused with innovation is “a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment,” usually something which has not previously been in existence.

Innovation, for its part, can refer to something new or to a change made to an existing product, idea, or field. One might say that the first telephone was an invention, the first cellular telephone either an invention or an innovation, and the first smartphone an innovation.

Examples of invention in a Sentence

The light bulb was one of the most important inventions of the 19th century. The stories he told about his military service were just inventions. His explanation was pure invention. Parts of the movie were accurate, but much of it was invention. the invention of a new product the invention of a false story an artist with exceptional powers of invention
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Recent Examples on the Web

Antibiotics have changed the world since their invention in the early 20th century, but their usefulness might be coming to an end. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "New Study Shows Antibiotics Could Be Replaced With Viruses," 11 June 2018 Here, Packham answers questions about his discoveries, inventions and what matters most. Nicole Miller-coleman,, "Resonant transformer: Tanner Packham channels Tesla, sparks bright future," 24 June 2018 Rodriguez is comfortably pushing Spanish dance into the 21st century, evolving the form in innovative and fascinating ways through his creative movement invention and beautiful imagery. Lauren Warnecke,, "Ensemble Espanol pushing Spanish dance into the 21st century," 16 June 2018 That all changed when rival Intel Corp. started licensing the invention and developing its own products, according to KAIST IP. Fortune, "Samsung Told to Pay $400 Million in FinFet Patent Dispute," 16 June 2018 This was a period distinctly rich in invention and experiment — yet also distinctly desolate, with the impact of AIDS. Mark Feeney,, "At Harvard, seeing the importance of the print in photography," 24 May 2018 Roth’s indignation seemed to stem less from revulsion at being painted with the brush of his more outlandish characters’ histories than from insult at the idea that their histories were anything but the product of invention and work. Nathan Heller, Vogue, "Remembering Philip Roth, Literary Risk-Taker," 23 May 2018 Yeah Yeahs went on to have success with their solid 2006 follow-up, Show Your Bones, and 2009’s It’s Blitz!, but the rawness and invention of Fever to Tell will always define them. Kevin Warwick, Chicago Reader, "The Yeah Yeah Yeahs return with a deluxe vinyl reissue of their acclaimed debut, Fever to Tell," 17 May 2018 Surely, such inventions and so many others are based on laws of nature that function independently of us. Marcelo Gleiser, Scientific American, "How Much Can We Know?," 8 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'invention.' 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 invention

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

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Phrases Related to invention

necessity is the mother of invention

Statistics for invention

Last Updated

22 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for invention

The first known use of invention was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for invention


in·ven·tion | \in-ˈven-shən \

Kids Definition of invention

1 : an original device or process

2 : lie entry 3 The story was just an invention.

3 : the act or process of inventing

4 : the ability to think of new ideas He was a man of invention.



Legal Definition of invention 

: a device, process, or discovery under U.S. patent law that is new and useful, that reflects extraordinary creative ability or skill, and that makes a distinct and recognized contribution to and advancement of science also : the act or process of creating such an invention — compare aggregation, combination, equivalent

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Comments on invention

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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