in·​no·​va·​tion ˌi-nə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce innovation (audio)
: a new idea, method, or device : novelty
: the introduction of something new
innovational adjective

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What is the difference between innovation and invention?

The words innovation and invention overlap semantically but are really quite distinct.

Invention can refer to a type of musical composition, a falsehood, a discovery, or any product of the imagination. The sense of invention most likely to be confused with innovation is “a device, contrivance, or process originated after study and experiment,” usually something which has not previously been in existence.

Innovation, for its part, can refer to something new or to a change made to an existing product, idea, or field. One might say that the first telephone was an invention, the first cellular telephone either an invention or an innovation, and the first smartphone an innovation.

Example Sentences

She is responsible for many innovations in her field. the latest innovation in computer technology Through technology and innovation, they found ways to get better results with less work. the rapid pace of technological innovation
Recent Examples on the Web The notion of female equality is, historically, an innovation. Idrees Kahloon, The New Yorker, 23 Jan. 2023 Vaccines are the single greatest public health innovation in the history of medicine. Steven Salzberg, Forbes, 23 Jan. 2023 The technology and innovation that the global ad and sales team has brought to market ensures that there will be billions more to come. J. Clara Chan, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 Jan. 2023 The internal bracing procedure is a more recent innovation than the ligament reconstruction pioneered on John in 1974 and has less of a track record that can be used to estimate a time for Story to return. Dallas News, 10 Jan. 2023 Now, whether this is an innovation or a gimmick remains to be seen; after all, beamforming tech already exists, and operates instantly, without motors. PCMAG, 8 Jan. 2023 Over a decade later, there have been advancements and successes in the industry — but there is more innovation to deliver to consumers all around. Partner Content, Variety, 28 Dec. 2022 Margot’s is the latest innovation at The Margaret, which offers specialty cocktails (including Hurricanes and Pimm’s Cup), shots, beer, wine and other libations. Mary Colurso |, al, 22 Dec. 2022 Red light therapy is the latest and greatest innovation in skincare. Vanessa Powell, ELLE, 17 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'innovation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of innovation was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near innovation

Cite this Entry

“Innovation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


in·​no·​va·​tion ˌin-ə-ˈvā-shən How to pronounce innovation (audio)
: the introduction of something new
: a new idea, method, or device

More from Merriam-Webster on innovation

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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