Invoke vs Evoke – Difference Between Invoke and Evoke

Invoke vs Evoke – Difference Between Invoke and Evoke

The difference between invoke and evoke is that evoke means to bring about an emotion, feeling, or thought whereas invoke means to call upon something or someone, often a specific person or figurehead.

Because they have such similar meanings and are often used within similar contexts, these two words frequently get mixed up. In fact, they are confused so often that many people use them incorrectly, with some even thinking that they are interchangeable.

Today, we are going to provide you with specific definitions for each word along with a breakdown of what makes them different from one another. Following this, we will provide you with a quick reference table that separates the variations between invoke vs evoke visually.

Definition of Invoke – So What Is Invoke?

The definition of invoke is to call upon something specific.

You probably cannot determine whether it is appropriate to use invoke or evoke as part of a sentence based on the above description alone, but it certainly serves to provide you with a major clue as to the nature of invoke due to the use of the word “call.”

The primary difference between invoke and evoke is that when we are invoking something, we are directly calling upon it to assist us in some way.

In contrast, when we are evoking something, we are usually recalling a thought, feeling, or memory as opposed to calling upon a person, figure, or power. We can evoke feelings in others too.

We are usually remembering something when we are evoking. That something has been triggered by something or someone else. When we are invoking, we are directly asking for assistance.

The word invoke originates in the 15th century and has both French and Latin origins. The original spelling in French was “invoquer” (though there are similar variations), whereas the original Latin spelling was “invocare.” These words translate as “implore” and “call upon,” respectively.

Here are some examples of how we could actually use the word invoke vs evoke in a written sentence structure.

“He invoked the power of God to support him in his fight against evil.” “She invoked her right to contact her lawyer before any further discussion or action could be taken.”

Even though the circumstances surrounding these sentences are clearly very different, the recurring theme here is that the person in either scenario is calling upon someone or something specific to assist them.

The difference between evoke and invoke is that a person is not directly appealing to anything specific when they evoke something or have something evoked in them. They are simply feeling, thinking, or behaving a certain way based on triggered thoughts, feelings, or emotions.

When a person is invoking, they are appealing to something, whether it is a power, person, or figurehead.

In order for you to better understand the invoke vs evoke definition comparison, we need to dive a little further into the word evoke now to help set them apart further.

Definition of Evoke – So What Is Evoke?

The definition of evoke is to bring about a thought, feeling, or emotion.

Already there is a significant difference between evoke and invoke in the above definition. The wider explanation of these words in the previous section should have helped you to spot it, but when a person is evoking something, they are basically remembering something.

They are allowing something, someone, or somewhere to help them recall their memories, feelings, emotions, and thoughts in relation to the initial trigger point. Interestingly, a trigger point can be a location, an object, a person, or even a smell.

When something is being evoked, you are involuntarily being triggered in some way, whether it is emotionally, physically, or even intellectually. Something else is making you do or feel something that you were not doing or feeling moments ago.

Invoking, on balance, is actually a completely voluntary process.

Invoking is also entirely internal, whereas evoking is externally led. The clue, of course, lies in the words themselves. When we are comparing evokes vs invokes, the first letter of each word determines the nature of the rest of the word. The letter “i” denotes an inward focus, and the letter “e” denotes an external focus.

The word evoke originates in 17th century Latin, specifically in the word “evocare,” meaning “from or out of.” To help you to separate evoke vs invoke further, we will now provide you with some practical sentence examples that make use of the word evoke.

“The city evoked memories of her childhood, with all of its sights and sounds.” “The design team hoped that the new vehicle’s retro styling would evoke nostalgic feelings in prospective buyers.”

We have intentionally used two different contexts here to help you fully grasp the concept of evoking vs invoking. The first is a very straightforward application of the word because it revolves around a location triggering memories within a person based on the activities and visual cues in the area. The second is a little more complicated. What ties them both together is that something external is being used to manifest something else.

This should give you a much better idea about the scope of use for evoke because when you follow the logic behind the examples, suddenly it becomes clear that anytime something leads to the creation of a thought, feeling, or emotion, the source trigger point can be described as evoking some kind of response.

In the next section, we are going to provide you with a quick reference table to help you determine the invoke vs evoke definition more easily.

What Is the Main Difference Between Invoke vs Evoke?

The below table will help you to visually separate evoke vs invoke at a quick glance.

MeaningTo recall, feel, or think something because of something elseTo call upon something
OriginLatinFrench, Latin
PurposeThere is no specific purpose. Instead, evocation occurs through entirely organic means.It is specifically used to call upon something in order to achieve something else.
Example“The smell of gasoline evoked memories of being on the racetrack.”“He invoked his managerial power in order to summon the employee in for a disciplinary hearing.”

Anytime you get stuck when trying to determine the separate meanings of these two words, come back to the above quick reference table for a refresher to reinvigorate your knowledge.

So What’s the Difference Between Evoke and Invoke? – Conclusion

You should now finally be able to summarize the different natures of these two words and determine whether evoke or invoke is going to be the appropriate word choice based on the context of your writing or spoken language.

To provide an effective summary of their differences, the word invoke means to call upon something specific, whereas the word evoke means to recall or experience something based on the intervention of something external.

We hope that you enjoyed today’s comparison, and we encourage you to flex your knowledge by trying to weave evoke and invoke into your everyday language from now on.