in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Definition of invoke

transitive verb

1a : to petition for help or support
b : to appeal to or cite as authority
2 : to call forth by incantation : conjure
3 : to make an earnest request for : solicit
4 : to put into effect or operation : implement

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from invoke

invoker noun

evoke or invoke?

Don’t feel bad if you have difficulty remembering the difference between evoke and invoke, as the words are quite similar in many ways and have considerable overlap in meaning. However, the words do differ, and you would not want to substitute one for the other. Invoke is used of putting into effect or calling upon such things as laws, authority, or privilege (“the principal invoked a rule forbidding students from asking questions”). Evoke is primarily used in the sense “to call forth or up” and is often found in connection with such things as memories, emotions, or sympathy.

Examples of invoke in a Sentence

Nietzsche is so complex that he can be invoked in support of many outlooks, some of them brutal or nihilistic. — Thomas Nagel, New Republic, 14 Jan. 2002 There are some people who commit murder as a way of invoking the death penalty. Capital punishment can sometimes, then, be equivalent to suicide. — George Freeman Solomon, People, 17 Jan. 1977 We began poring over the typewritten recipes at the dining room table, where I foolishly invoked the name of Julia Child … — Gael Greene, New York, 13 Sept. 1971 He invoked the memory of his predecessor. She invoked history to prove her point. He invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges. The suspect invoked his right to an attorney. invoke the authority of the court
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Warren wrote on Twitter the day the rules were announced, invoking criticism of how the Democratic debates stages have become less racially diverse. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Next Democratic Debate: Who's In, When It Starts, and How to Watch," 18 Feb. 2020 Jaxon is designed to invoke Lone Star State pride, from its boot-leather wallpaper to its selection of Texas beers. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, "Inside the 20 restaurants and bars opening at AT&T Discovery District in downtown Dallas," 17 Feb. 2020 Designed to invoke local history, Circa will include Vegas Vickie (a high-kicking neon cowgirl formerly seen above Fremont Street) in its lobby. cleveland, "In Las Vegas lately, it’s lights, cameras and more lights," 9 Feb. 2020 This time, the Administration didn’t bother to invoke any such purpose. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, "Are the Courts Beginning to Move in Favor of Trump’s Immigration Policies?," 6 Feb. 2020 European officials complained privately that Trump’s threat only complicated their decision on Tuesday to invoke the mechanism, which starts the clock on 65 days of negotiations with Iran about returning to full compliance with the deal. John Hudson, Washington Post, "Days before Europeans warned Iran of nuclear deal violations, Trump secretly threatened to impose 25% tariff on European autos if they didn’t," 15 Jan. 2020 The standard for a company to invoke a clause is typically permissive. Michael Mccann,, "Antonio Brown: Potential Legal Implications of Latest Developments," 20 Sep. 2019 The former deputy, a Southern Baptist who sometimes serves as a deacon at his local church, is believed to be the first plaintiff to invoke the Billy Graham Rule in making a discrimination claim, BuzzFeed News reported. Fox News, "Christian deputy’s request to follow ‘Billy Graham Rule’ got him fired, he claims in lawsuit," 24 Aug. 2019 When commanders asked platoon members about the drinking and the alleged assault, the entire platoon reportedly chose to invoke their right to remain silent and refused to cooperate with the investigation. Alex Ward, Vox, "Navy SEAL platoon sent home from Iraq over rape allegation and drinking while deployed," 26 July 2019

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for invoke

Middle English envoken, from Middle French invoquer, from Latin invocare, from in- + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice — more at voice

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about invoke

Time Traveler for invoke

Time Traveler

The first known use of invoke was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for invoke

Last Updated

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invoke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for invoke


How to pronounce invoke (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of invoke

: to mention (someone or something) in an attempt to make people feel a certain way or have a certain idea in their mind
: to refer to (something) in support of your ideas
: to make use of (a law, a right, etc.)


in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Kids Definition of invoke

1 : to ask for aid or protection (as in prayer)
2 : to call forth by magic invoke spirits
3 : to appeal to as an authority or for support She invoked the Sunday rule as soon as he returned from the skateboard park and a family outing was launched.— Carl Hiaasen, Hoot
in·​voke | \ in-ˈvōk How to pronounce invoke (audio) \
invoked; invoking

Legal Definition of invoke

1 : to appeal to as furnishing authority or motive
2 : to put into legal effect or call for the observance of : enforce invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege
3 : to introduce or put into operation invoking economic sanctions
4 : to be the cause of regulations that invoke problems in enforcement

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on invoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for invoke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with invoke

Spanish Central: Translation of invoke

Nglish: Translation of invoke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of invoke for Arabic Speakers

Comments on invoke

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of probity?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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