What is the difference between invoke and evoke?

How to Use Invoke

Invoke has several meanings and can be used in several different ways: To call upon for aid: “From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favourable winds.” —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick To summon something into existence, to conjure: “Mario Cardona, 36 from Victoria, Gozo, today was acquitted of fraud in what can be seen as a bizarre attempt to invoke a 30,000 year-old demon with the name ‘Bezuzu’, to help a woman, Carol Milroy, get back at then husband Iain Gilbert Milroy following an alleged affair in October 2014.” —The Malta Independent To cite something, usually a law: “One decision is absolutely in London’s hands: when to begin the process of withdrawal by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.” —The Wall Street Journal To bring about or cause: “The ‘Devil’s Bible’ continues to invoke fascination and fear hundreds of years after it was written.” —News.com.au

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How to use evoke in a sentence?

Use the verb evoke to describe the following actio

Use the verb evoke to describe the following actions: 

  • ‘To recall or produce a memory, emotion, fact, etc.’ 
  • ‘To elicit or cause a reaction from something or someone (or a higher power).’

Example sentences:

  • “Kale ‘meatballs’ evoke fond memories of Yale.” –– Yale News
  • “… the work aims to evoke the yearning to travel across the horizon to establish a new life in another place…” –– BBC News
  • “They evoke Darth Vader, but these masks may save your doctor’s life.” –– The New York Times

Invoke – Meaning and Usage

Invoke comes from the Latin invocare (in- ‘upon’ + vocare ‘to call’) as the origin of this verb suggests, invoke  refers to calling upon something. There are two main meanings of this verb.

To call upon a deity or spirit in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration/ summon through incantations

The goddess of fire was invoked by the priestess.

They held a religious ceremony to invoke the spirits.

The bearded priest claimed that he could invoke the holy spirits to assist them.

To cite or appeal to someone or something as an authority for an action or in support of an argument

He invoked his right to an attorney.

They invoked the aid of France against this attack.

The student invoked the history to prove her point.

When compared with evoke, invoke can be termed as a more direct and intentional action. Furthermore, the verb invoke is used with more practical and material things than evoke, which is usually associated with feelings and emotions.

The shaman invoked the holy spirits.

The shaman invoked the holy spirits.

Practice Exercises

  1. The defendant tried unsuccessfully to _____ the principle of self-defense.
  2. There's nothing like an album of old vacation photos to _____ memories of childhood.

What Does Invoke Mean?

Invoke basically means to call upon something, especially aid or assistance. This verb is typically used when referring to the aid of a higher power such as a deity. The Oxford dictionary defines the verb invoke as “call on (a deity or spirit) in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration” and American Heritage dictionary defines it as “to call on (a higher power) for assistance, support, or inspiration”. The following example sentences will help you to understand this meaning more clearly.

The old priest invoked the Holy Spirit for aid.

Stretching out his hands, the shaman invoked the Goddess of War.

The priests held a religious ceremony to invoke the deity.

Invoke can also mean to cite or appeal to something in support or justification.

He invoked the name of Henry II to prove his point.

The prisoner invoked his right to an attorney.

Figure 1: Example Sentence of Invoke – &#822

Figure 1: Example Sentence of Invoke – ” The old man invoked the guardian spirits “.

Using Invoke in a Sentence

When to use invoke: Invoke can also mean to call forth. However, rather than use invoke to mean to call forth a memory, people use it when they call or plead for help.

They can use this either when asking for help from individuals, groups, or deities. They can also use this when they mention a law and want to enforce it.

For example,

  • The people at the church prayed to invoke God’s presence within their lives. (asking for help from a god)
  • The commander invoked a rarely used law to try to force the country into a war. (mention a law that the person wants to enforce)
  • The small village invoked the aid of the neighboring town after being devastated by a tornado. (asking for help from a group)

There are no notable expressions or idioms with invoke, but the top collocations include invoke a/the name, invoke God, invoke a/the law, and invoke a/the privilege.

Outside Examples of Evoke vs. Invoke

  • He also said that Mr. Levandowski’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment may change as they examine the case. –The New York Times
  • You hear Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner and the others invoke patience, and even if that’s never been your baseball DNA default position as a Yankees fan, you’ve bought in. –New York Post
  • WHAT DOES nostalgia taste like? For you, Great Aunt Mildred’s matzo ball soup may evoke her enveloping hugs, rose-scented perfume and uncanny mimicry skills, but take that soup to someone else’s Passover Seder and it’s the disappointing substitute for the venerated bowlful from the local deli. –The Wall Street Journal
  • The setting, on the other hand, is a multiroom extravaganza based (a wee bit) on the brothers’ childhood and meant to evoke a sense of home. –The Washington Post

What is the Difference Between Invoke and Evoke?

In this post, I will compare these confusing English verbs. I will outline the definition of each word and use each in example sentences

Plus, I will show you a mnemonic device that will help you choose either evoke or invoke in your own writing.

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3 Ways to Use Evoke

Understanding the meaning of evoke and properly using it can enhance your writing.

  1. To call upon a memory: Details, such as a smell, sound, image, touch, or sight, can trigger a memory. You can use the term “evoke” to bring back and describe those memories. Example sentence: “Returning to the old boathouse evoked memories of sailing with her grandfather, inspiring her to write a new story for her blog.”
  2. To call upon a sensation: If your writing style is more abstract, consider evoking your sensory experiences rather than simply stating them. For poetry especially, you can evoke a certain feeling by describing your physical or mental reaction to a situation. Example sentence: “She brushed aside everything she knew about grammar and focused on evoking her unbridled determination.”
  3. To embody: “Evoke” can also mean embodying a style or spirit. Musicians may think of their muses to evoke a certain sound in the same way a chef may try to evoke the cooking style of an admired predecessor. Example sentence: “As the young artist sat down to paint, he tried to evoke the spirit of Van Gogh to create a landscape reminiscent of ‘Starry Night.’”

Examples

Here are some examples of "evoke" and "invoke," showing the difference in their meanings in context.

  • The taste of baked apples and the smell of a bonfire evoke the pleasures of autumn.
  • From "Once and Always a New Yorker": "Returning to a place where childhoods happened, first jobs were held and mates were met can evoke strong sentiments about the passing of time and life choices."
  • From "Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays": "Never invoke the gods unless you really want them to appear. It annoys them very much."
  • All Dad had to do to get us to stop fighting was to invoke the name of Santa Claus and remind us of his watchful eyes.

Where does the word invoke come from?

The first records of invoke in English come from the 1480s. It comes from the Latin verb invocāre, in which vocāre means “to call.” In invoke, the prefix in- means, yep, “in,” so to invoke is “to call someone or something in.” What do you do when you need help? You call in reinforcements. Or you call on someone to help you. This is how invoke is used in the context of prayer.

You probably recognize the root -voke in other common words, like provoke and revoke. The prefix pro- in provoke means “forward,” so to provoke someone is to call them forth, as if to challenge them. The prefix re- in revoke means “back,” so to revoke something is to call it back.

Summary Invoke vs Evoke

There is a difference between invoke and evoke although some people tend to use them interchangeably. Evoke is typically used with memories, images and emotions whereas invoke is used with a higher power. In addition, invoking or calling on a higher power is a deliberate action whereas evocation of memories or feelings is more of a spontaneous action.

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