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

Huawei holds 56,492 active patents on telecommunications, networking and other high-tech inventions worldwide, according to Anaqua, an intellectual property-management software firm. Susan Decker, latimes.com, "Huawei has 56,492 patents, and it’s not afraid to use them," 14 June 2019 What remains to be done is a matter of work and money rather than invention. David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, "China hints it will choke off U.S. ‘rare earths’ access. But it’s not that easy.," 11 June 2019 Charls humbly gives all the credit for this most delicious of inventions to Kevin and Philip. Doreen Christensen, sun-sentinel.com, "Publix subs go on sale this week (plus how the Chicken Tender Sub was invented)," 11 June 2019 The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail’s invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. BostonGlobe.com, "Target beefs up parental leave," 11 June 2019 In a brilliant, prescient 2010 paper, a Cornell University and Microsoft communications researcher, Tarleton Gillespie, tore open the emerging rhetoric of the platform, showing how useful and slippery this new invention could be. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "The ‘Platform’ Excuse Is Dying," 11 June 2019 The Postal Service initially expressed interest in Return Mail’s invention but ultimately developed its own, similar system. Washington Post, "Supreme Court sides with Alabama company in patent dispute," 10 June 2019 Silicon Valley is, in many ways, the beating heart of present-day invention. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "To understand the future of food, look to the Holy Land," 10 June 2019 SparkFun also manufactures circuit boards based on the open-source inventions that its team of engineers comes up with. Aldo Svaldi, The Denver Post, "Could a trade war trigger the next recession, and how would that impact Colorado?," 9 June 2019

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

18 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for invention

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

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More Definitions for invention

invention

noun

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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Comments on invention

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