Evoke vs. Invoke – How to Use Each Correctly
What’s the Difference Between Evoke and Invoke?
Evoke and invoke can be especially confusing to people because they similar enough, and, in certain contexts, their meanings are similar. This is because they both come from the same Latin root word, vocare, which means to voice or to call. However, despite this overlap there are some important differences.
Evoke is a verb, which means to call up, produce, or elicit. People often choose this word when something in a book, song, or painting causes someone to remember something from their past.
- The painting of the beautiful snow-covered mountains evoked memories of Heidi’s childhood.
Invoke is also a verb which means to call up or call forth. However, invoke usually means to call for help, or to call up through prayer. It has the additional meaning of citing something such as a law to justify an argument.
- The country was greatly damaged by the tsunami and invoked aid from nations across the world.
Although these two words have similar meanings and origins, oftentimes only one of them is appropriate for a specific sentence.
Let’s look at some of the ways to use these words in English.
Using Evoke in a Sentence
When to use evoke: Evoke can mean to produce a memory or feeling, to elicit, or to pull out.
- Everytime she heard polka music, it evoked memories of her grandmother. (to produce a memory)
- The president’s policies evoked outrage from citizens. (to elicit)
- The psychic claimed she could evoke the spirits of those who had died. (to summon)
There are no notable expressions or idioms with evoke, but the most common collocations include evoke images, evoke memories, evoke a sense of, and evoke a response.
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.
- 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.
Remembering Evoke vs. Invoke
One way to help you remember when to use evoke is to think of the word memory. Both words have an e, and evoke usually is about a memory.
On the other hand, the word cite and aid both contain an i, just like the word invoke. Invoke usually is about citing a law or calling for aid.
- You can switch among various scene modes (sport, HDR, macro, panorama, etc.) using a virtual thumb dial that is also meant to evoke the past. But the software interface is a little bit clunky. –USA Today
- The children learn about Tibet history and culture, and recite the Tibetan national anthem to evoke patriotism and nationalism, Phuntsog noted. –OC Register
- “It’s like being in La Masia,” she said, invoking Barcelona’s famous clubhouse, which sits in the shadow of the team’s Camp Nou stadium. –The New York Times
- Pacquiao said he respected “the opinions of the judges” and planned to invoke a rematch clause to fight the new World Boxing Organization welterweight champion later this year, likely around November. –LA Times
Quiz: Invoke vs. Evoke
- The teacher got in trouble for constantly ________________ God at a public school.
- The smell of fresh strawberries always _______________ fond memories of her time living in the countryside.
- The angry neighbor ________________ a section of the Home Owner’s Association rulebook while making a point.
See answers below.
Should I use evoke or invoke? Both of these words come from the same root word, but they have separate usage cases, so it’s important to use them with precision.
- Evoke most often means to cause someone to remember something or feel something.
- Invoke most often means to mention someone’s name (especially a god), ask for aid, or cite a law.
In short, use evoke for memories and emotions, and invoke for pleading for help or mentioning a rule.