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

Wayne LaPierre, the group’s chief executive, invoked the phrase after the 2012 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school. Frances Stead Sellers, Washington Post, "Two Oklahoma citizens killed an active shooter, and it's not as simple as it sounds," 13 July 2018 Photo: Associated Press One day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, NATO for the first time invoked Article 5, the mutual-defense provision of the treaty. Michael R. Gordon, WSJ, "NATO’s 2% Target: Why the U.S. Pushed Allies to Spend More on the Military," 12 July 2018 Facing possible criminal prosecution, Levandowski invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in the civil lawsuit between Waymo and Uber. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Exec accused of stealing Waymo’s trade secrets starts new self-driving company," 3 July 2018 Finally, Sotomayor invoked Korematsu v United States, a landmark 1944 ruling which held that rounding up Japanese Americans on the basis of their race and forcing them into detention camps was constitutional. Anne Branigin, The Root, "Sonia Sotomayor Reads the Supreme Court's Travel Ban Decision for Filth," 26 June 2018 Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, invoked the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. during his sermon, which was watched by millions around the world. Shelia Poole, ajc, "Bishop Michael Curry, who spoke at royal wedding, speaks in Atlanta this fall," 20 June 2018 Brown’s third and fourth claims invoke Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, better known as the Civil Rights Act. Michael Mccann,, "Inside Sterling Brown’s compelling lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department and City of Milwaukee," 19 June 2018 With the exception of Collins, these women either explicitly or implicitly invoked their motherhood, as though this bestows a particular moral authority on them. Sarah Jones, The New Republic, "Motherhood and the Morality of Trump’s Immigration Policy," 18 June 2018 The activist group Voto Latino invoked the upcoming Father’s Day holiday in its Thursday event with multiple lawmakers. Emily Stewart, Vox, "“Families Belong Together” rallies protesting family separation at the border, in tweets," 15 June 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

20 Sep 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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Comments on invoke

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