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Evoke vs Invoke

What’s the difference between invoke vs evoke? Though they both derive from the same root word, vox, (Latin for voice,) their definitions and contexts in which they should be used vary.

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 08:11 pm



The difference between “evoke” and “invoke”

Evoke and invoke are both transitive verbs with the same Latin root word, vox, meaning “voice“. Both have to do with “calling forth” something, but how they differ is in what it is that they call upon, about, or towards:

  • Evoke mainly refers to calling forth emotions, or resurfacing feelings and memories; e.g., “visiting my childhood home evokes bittersweet memories and emotions“.


  • Invoke is often a formal appeal made to a person, institution, law, or authority; e.g., “you invoke your constitutional rights“.



MeaningSentence examples
evoke (transitive verb) means “to cause something to be remembered or expressed, as in a feeling, memory, and/or emotion”.Visiting my childhood home evokes bittersweet memories and emotions.

His case is likely to evoke public sympathy.


The actor’s ability to evoke a variety of emotions …
invoke (transitive verb) putting into effect or calling upon such things as laws, authority, or privilege”.The article invokes numerous scholars to help support its argument.

The suspect invokes his right to an attorney.

Too many people invoke a passage from the Bible to justify their intolerance of those who are different.

Evoke could be replaced with words or phrases, such as, brought about, gave rise to, caused, arose, and so forth.

“Evoke”, “invoke” and “provoke”

To provoke is another word that shares a similar pronunciation and spelling with invoke and evoke (and is a verb with the same Latin root!) The difference between provoke and evoke/invoke is that the former describes purposely stirring up, or aiming to bring about a reaction or emotions from others; e.g., in the phrase, “don’t provoke them“, is similar to saying don’t upset or anger them.


Evoke and provoke are synonyms; that said, evoke is less emotionally charged and applies more broadly in terms of the sorts of feelings or emotions it refers to.


Sentence examples with “invoke”

Police can invoke the law to regulate access to these places.

RCMP, 1985.

Their sacred dance is performed to invoke ancient gods.

Regulators said they would invoke legal powers to enforce the change.

Old radio programs may invoke comforting memories of the past.

The UN threatened to invoke economic sanctions if the talks were broken off. (UN Chapter VII.)


Sentence examples with “evoke”

That smell always evokes memories of my old school.

‘A detergent designed to evoke the fresh smell of summer meadows.’

“The sight of American asters evokes pleasant memories of childhood”

Peaches evoke memories and bring out the best of summertime activities.

It’s going to the edge to spontaneously improvise and evoke the inner spirit.

Synonyms for “invoke”

The following list of words and phrases have a similar meaning with invoke, and can be used in similar contexts in writing:

  • Bring about
  • Yield
  • Bring rise to
  • Generate
  • Induce
  • Prompt
  • At any moment
  • Produce
  • Effect
  • Effectuate
  • Bring on
  • Cause

Synonyms for “evoke”

The following list of words and phrases have a similar meaning with evoke and can be used in similar contexts. Like with all synonyms, make sure to use the appropriate word given the context.

  • Elicit
  • Extract
  • Arouse
  • Conjure
  • Provoke
  • Educe
  • Evince
  • Rouse
  • Raise

Origin of invoke

Invoke derives from the Latin invocare “call upon, implore.” Invocare is a compound of vox, which means voice in Latin; and the Latin word in meaning “upon”.

Origin of evoke

From Latin evocare “call out, rouse, summon.”

In review

It makes sense that invoke and evoke are often confused with one another, since they overlap in their meaning and sound similar to each other. Again, this is because they derive from the same Latin root word for voice: vox. Invoke refers to calling upon an authority, or bringing it into effect. Evoke describes the resurfacing or bringing up of a feeling, memory, thought, emotion or spirit.

Sources

  1. thesaurus.com/browse/invoke
  2. Synonyms for evoke
  3. The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll
  4. Origin of invoke
  5. Transitive vs intransitive verbs
  6. Definition of provoke

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