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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Logging companies did not use this invention, however, to shorten the workweek by 90 percent. Alexander Zaitchik, The New Republic, "The Urgent Case for Shrinking the Economy," 28 Dec. 2020 Charlie’s innocence and selflessness, his wanting to honor Wonka’s invention instead of selling it to Wonka’s competitors, shows his worthiness as Wonka’s successor. New York Times, "Sensational Sweets of the Imagination," 21 Dec. 2020 The Catch-22 of brand invention at that time was to seem to make a break with the past while simultaneously preserving, and building upon, its heritage. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "What Does Heritage Mean to Fashion Houses Today?," 18 Dec. 2020 Anika's winning invention uses in-silico methodology to discover a lead molecule that can selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Alaa Elassar, CNN, "This 14-year-old girl won a $25K prize for a discovery that could lead to a cure for Covid-19," 18 Oct. 2020 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of invention

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about invention

Time Traveler for invention

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for invention

Last Updated

23 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Invention.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/invention. Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!