invention

noun
in·​ven·​tion | \ in-ˈven(t)-shən How to pronounce invention (audio) \

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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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 Prehistoric peoples Broadly defined as the period between humans’ invention of stone tools and the development of writing systems, prehistory can be difficult to parse out given the lack of documentation available. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ninety Fascinating Finds Revealed in 2020," 29 Dec. 2020 Throughout her work, Kohler often obscures the distinction between literary invention and personal history. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "The Best Books Vogue Editors Read in 2020," 24 Dec. 2020 Pandemic production shutdown is the mother of TV invention When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down TV production in March, some stations found creative ways to continue. Bill Keveney, USA TODAY, "20 top TV moments of 2020: From 'Jeopardy!' to 'Tiger King' and that wild election," 23 Dec. 2020 Proceeding this way can create something new—an invention. Simon Baron-cohen, WSJ, "How Autism and Invention Are Connected," 12 Dec. 2020 Soderbergh’s three decades as a filmmaker have been marked by experimentation, restlessness and invention. Mark Olsen Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Indie Focus: A family finds itself in ‘Minari’," 11 Dec. 2020 And for an invention so ahead of its time, Heron’s aeolipile didn’t fit into Roman society. Addison Nugent, Popular Mechanics, "Why Heron's Aeolipile Is One of History's Greatest Forgotten Machines," 29 Nov. 2020 Plus, a Missouri scientist is suing the Patent Office for refusing to acknowledge the role his AI system allegedly had in discovering an invention. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "How AI is changing the legal profession," 17 Nov. 2020 Real invention is extraordinarily rare, and far more disruptive. Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic, "Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine," 15 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for invention

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for invention

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Invention.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/invention. Accessed 15 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for invention

invention

noun
How to pronounce invention (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of invention

: a useful new device or process
: something (such as a false story) that is made up
: the act of inventing something

invention

noun
in·​ven·​tion | \ in-ˈven-shən How to pronounce invention (audio) \

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.

invention

noun
in·​ven·​tion

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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