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

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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 But the jury did not hear from the former Minneapolis police officer, who on Thursday removed his face covering to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Meg Wagner, CNN, "Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death," 19 Apr. 2021 Chauvin last week chose to invoke the Fifth Amendment and did not testify. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "Psaki distances Biden from Maxine Waters call to get 'more confrontational' if Chauvin acquitted," 19 Apr. 2021 Chauvin wasn't the only one to invoke the Fifth Amendment. Meredith Deliso, ABC News, "Key takeaways from the Derek Chauvin trial in George Floyd's death, as jurors near deliberation," 18 Apr. 2021 Though the House of Representatives has both the power and the responsibility to conduct oversight, Pelosi fell short of promising or even threatening to invoke that power. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "A Simple Way for Congress to Hold ICE Accountable," 16 Sep. 2020 Both political parties claim to represent his values and never hesitate to invoke his name to bolster their image. Time, "Reconsidering Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy Is All Well and Good—But You Can't Argue with Results," 15 Apr. 2021 So, having passed the stimulus along party lines with only the faintest appeals to bipartisanship, most future legislation is going to bump up against the 60-vote threshold required to invoke cloture and break filibusters. W. James Antle Iii, Washington Examiner, "Party of groupthink," 11 Mar. 2021 The petition asks the court to order Berberian and Spanos to take steps to sell the trust’s share of the Chargers and invoke a provision of trust law that would require the team’s other shareholders to do the same. Nathan Fenno, Los Angeles Times, "Fate of Chargers’ ownership at stake as Dean Spanos’ sister asks court to force sale," 1 Apr. 2021 New York City’s lawsuit was an early effort among U.S. states and municipalities to turn to the judiciary and invoke state law to address climate change. Washington Post, "U.S. auto sales rebound in first quarter, despite semiconductor chip shortage," 1 Apr. 2021

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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Time Traveler for invoke

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for invoke

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Invoke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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 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

Comments on invoke

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