Invoke vs. Evoke

Evocation!Some of the best moments in my life are when I proofread myself in conversation. 😀 I was talking to my husband and said “invoke” (or “evoke,” can’t remember now!), stopped and said to him, “Do I mean invoke or evoke?” After some debate about it, the simple answer was–we didn’t know. We had some sort of idea, and after research–our idea was kind of correct. Read on to find out the difference!

Invoke

When you’re invoking something, you’re doing it directly–you’re active. It originally meant to ask for help from a higher being, basically praying. However, as most other words, the meaning of invoke has changed a bit. It now also means to cause, bring about, or effect. For example, “I invoked my mother’s wrath.” In this case, I caused my mother to be angry. In legal terminology, it can also mean to cite something.

Since I’m here, I thought I’d mention invocation. Invocation is the act of petitioning or help and is frequently used in religious ceremonies. For example, “The Priest said an invocation during mass.”

Evoke

So unfortunately, evoke also has multiple meanings. Nothing like English to confuse people, right? Well evoke originally meant to call forth, like summoning a spirit–much like invoke. However, it can also mean to “suggest” or “bring to mind.” For example, you can say “She evoked the spirit of Jove.” In this case, since Jove is a god, she would be summoning him. You can also say, “It evoked memories of my childhood.” This would mean that it reminded me of my childhood.

The reason I brought up invocation earlier is because of evocation. While invocation means to petition for help through prayer, evocation maintains the idea of “summoning.” Those of you who are gamers might remember a spell called evocation in World of Warcraft, where a mage could regain mana. In essence, the mage is summoning some sort of spirit who helps regenerate mana–hence today’s image! (Yes, I’m a gamer geek as well!)

Final Thoughts

When using evoke and invoke, you might want to adhere to the newer forms, being “to suggest” and “to cause” respectively. It can be confusing to use them when referring to magical summoning–but to clarify, invoke is asking assistance from a higher being whereas evoke is actually summoning that being. Using invocation and evocation may be a clearer distinction for you, so you can always formulate your sentence to use those words. Good luck!

Posted in Grammar Quick Fix.

8 Comments

    • Being a BE Priest myself (back in the day), I said exactly the same thing to Kelly when I saw it.

  1. In the first sentence of the last paragraph, you used the word “respectfully” instead of the word “respectively.” Since this is a blog on language, I thought you might want to talk about the difference between these words and which one is correct in this instance. (“respectively”: FYI)

    • Well the “respectfully/respectively” thing was a typo, as I know the difference, but I will certainly consider writing a post on the two. Thanks (and edited my post to reflect the correct term).

  2. I find it interesting that while looking up the invoke vs. evoke thing I noticed you incorrectly used the effect vs. affect thing. You said;

    “Invoke

    When you’re invoking something, you’re doing it directly–you’re active. It originally meant to ask for help from a higher being, basically praying. However, as most other words, the meaning of invoke has changed a bit. It now also means to cause, bring about, or effect.”,

    whereas you should have have said all but the last word which should be ‘affect’.

    To cause is to affect. Cause is a verb. Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun. Therefore; Was caused, brought about, left an effect, is correct.

    Notice I didn’t say “effected”? I did not because that would be wrong. Correctly would be ‘affected’ but that would not have helped much in the above example.

    Cheers,
    Randy

    • Very good! In fact, if you look through the site a bit more, you’d notice that I have a post about the differences between “affect” and “effect.” I suppose no one is infallible, especially when one does not have an editor and the like to assist editing the posts.

      Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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