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

In fact, Eberling was surprised to learn that the most beneficial recent invention for the deaf community was the smart phone. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New wearable tech lets users listen to live music through their skin," 25 Nov. 2018 For a master class in colliding charming aesthetics and slightly more acerbic content, look at the collage artist Anne Taintor, who has been mashing up 1950s advertising imagery with witty phrases of her own invention since the mid-1980s. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "We buy each other gifts with misanthropic slogans to forge a common bond," 9 Nov. 2018 Elaine was Ally’s kittenish, gossipy assistant, offering her insecure boss plenty of moral support and coming up with her own inventions in hopes of getting rich. Matthew Gilbert,, "Ten actors who shone even before they were stars," 28 June 2018 Light bulbs have come along way in the 140 years since Thomas Edison's original invention, and Philips Hue is the technological crowning achievement of indoor lighting. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "Light Up Your Space With Amazon's Philips Hue Sale," 31 Aug. 2018 For the person who can't stand endlessly digging through their makeup bag in search of that one tiny eye pencil, there's this genius invention: the Lay-n-Go Cosmo. Maria Cassano, Allure, "The 21 Best Makeup Bags and Cosmetic Cases for Every Budget," 29 Aug. 2018 The invention is implemented by software that is stored at the computer of the user interface, or at a website accessed through the Internet. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Cybersex toy industry heats up as infamous “teledildonics” patent climaxes," 18 Aug. 2018 Three years after the University of California and the Broad Institute began battling over key patents on CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing inventions, the fat lady is finally about to sing in this multimillion-dollar operatic battle. Sharon Begley, STAT, "As CRISPR patent fight nears the endgame, where are settlement talks?," 2 May 2018 While Honda gave us the CVCC engine, the rest of the industry went with GM’s invention,the catalytic converter. star-telegram, "Gasoline: Pump Us Up?," 28 Apr. 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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Statistics for invention

Last Updated

3 Dec 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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