in·​voke | \in-ˈvōk \
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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

To illustrate the point, FCC chairman Ajit Pai reportedly invoked the 2013 film Gravity, which showcases a particularly bad encounter with space junk. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "SpaceX Gets FCC Approval to Launch 7,000 New Internet Satellites," 15 Nov. 2018 Simone Rocha invoked something rich, delicate, and somber on her carpeted runway at Lancaster House tonight. Sarah Mower, Vogue, "The Top 9 Collections of London Fashion Week Spring 2019," 19 Sep. 2018 Yet this administration is determined to take unilateral action against China by invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which gives the U.S. Trade Representative broad authority to respond to a foreign country’s unfair trade practices. Christine Mcdaniel, Fortune, "Commentary: Tariffs Are the Wrong Way to Punish China for Stealing Our Technology," 22 Mar. 2018 After getting turned down by the White House, the EPA granted the raises by invoking a provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act that allowed Pruitt to make up to 30 hires without White House or congressional approval. Evan Halper,, "Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigns amid scandals," 5 July 2018 The court’s decision seemed to apply only to the case at hand, and left open the question of whether a business can refuse gay customers by invoking their First Amendment rights. Julie Turkewitz, New York Times, "Colorado, Once Called the ‘Hate State,’ Grapples With Cake Baker Decision," 5 June 2018 The coal magnate Robert Murray has gone a step further, urging Trump to bail out coal plants by invoking a 68-year-old law that allows the president to effectively nationalize private industry. Michael Hawthorne,, "EPA deal marks dramatic shift away from dirty coal power in Chicago area," 24 May 2018 Even if Mueller's team decided to subpoena Mr. Trump as part of the investigation, the president could still fight it in court or refuse to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination. CBS News, "No decision on a Mueller interview until after summit with North Korea, Giuliani says," 12 May 2018 At the same time, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, has appealed directly to President Trump to save nuclear and coal-burning plants by invoking a provision in the 1950 Defense Production Act. John Funk,, "FirstEnergy Solutions hires top DC lobbyist while DOE considers its plea for emergency action," 20 Apr. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for invoke

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for invoke

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

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More Definitions for invoke



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 \
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 \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on invoke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with invoke

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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