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 There’s one sequence, though, which cleverly combines loose rumination and subtle direction, and which serenely and joyfully invokes a grand cinematic idea. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream: Nanni Moretti’s “Dear Diary” and the Power of the Film Camera as Sketchbook," 22 May 2020 Flu cases spiked just a few days later, and despite invoking social distancing measures immediately afterward, the city still ended up with one of the deadliest outbreaks in America. Popular Science, "The coronavirus doesn’t care about your long weekend plans.," 22 May 2020 Rather than invoke any direct claim on the patent (as the government has for Bayh-Dole march-in rights), the government can use the technology immediately and pay damages later. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "America’s Deadly Obsession With Intellectual Property," 21 May 2020 His mission, to introduce underserved children to the arts and to be a force that sparks hope and invokes change. Elizabeth Montgomery, azcentral, "Meet Goolam Saber, the South Africa-born artist exploring immigrant identity in Arizona," 21 May 2020 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directive, which invokes sweeping authorities in a 1944 public health law, was first issued in late March and renewed for another 30 days last month. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "U.S. extends stringent border restrictions indefinitely, citing ongoing coronavirus threat," 19 May 2020 Kafeel Khan, doctor Among the most stringent laws that the government can invoke is the National Security Act. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "India decongests its jails to check coronavirus but political prisoners are still locked up," 13 May 2020 Though Dickens is often invoked as a point of comparison for writers of wildly varying styles and quality, Zink may be the contemporary writer who most deserves the comparison. Andrew Martin, The New York Review of Books, "Getting Away With It," 13 May 2020 Trump this month invoked the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturing of medical equipment and is mulling an executive order that would seek to re-shore the making of U.S. medical supplies. Jenny Leonard,, "U.S., EU Are Far Apart on Reshoring Making of Medical Gear," 13 May 2020

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

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Invoke.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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

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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

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