verb in·voke \ in-ˈvōk \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of invoke

invoked; invoking
1 a : 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



Examples of invoke in a Sentence

  1. Nietzsche is so complex that he can be invoked in support of many outlooks, some of them brutal or nihilistic. —Thomas NagelNew Republic14 Jan. 2002
  2. 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 SolomonPeople17 Jan. 1977
  3. We began poring over the typewritten recipes at the dining room table, where I foolishly invoked the name of Julia Child … —Gael GreeneNew York13 Sept. 1971
  4. He invoked the memory of his predecessor.

  5. She invoked history to prove her point.

  6. He invoked his Fifth Amendment privileges.

  7. The suspect invoked his right to an attorney.

  8. invoke the authority of the court

Recent Examples of invoke from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of invoke

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

INVOKE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of invoke for English Language Learners

  • : 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.)

INVOKE Defined for Kids


verb in·voke \ in-ˈvōk \

Definition of invoke for Students

invoked; invoking
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

Word Root of invoke

The Latin word vox, meaning “voice,” and the related word vocāre, meaning “to call”, give us the root voc or vok. Words from the Latin vox or vocāre have something to do with the voice or with calling. Anything vocal is produced by the voice. A vocation is the work that someone is called to do as a job. To evoke is to call forth. To invoke is to call on for aid or protection. To provoke is to call forth another's anger. The word voice also has vox as its root.

Law Dictionary


transitive verb in·voke \ in-ˈvōk \

legal Definition of invoke

invoked; invoking
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

Seen and Heard

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very hard to disturb or upset

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