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Alternative forms[edit]

  • envoke (archaic or nonstandard)


From Middle English *invoken, envoken, borrowed from Old French envoquer, from Latin invocāre (to call upon), itself from in- +‎ vocare (to call). Doublet of invocate.


  • (US) enPR: in'vōk, IPA(key): /ɪnˈvoʊk/
  • (UK) enPR: in'vōk, IPA(key): /ɪnˈvəʊk/
  • (file)


invoke (third-person singular simple present invokes, present participle invoking, simple past and past participle invoked)

  1. (transitive) To call upon (a person, a god) for help, assistance or guidance.
  2. (transitive) To solicit, petition for, appeal to a favorable attitude.
    The envoy invoked the King of Kings's magnanimity to reduce his province's tribute after another drought.
    • 1964 May, “News and Comment: Minister hamstrings BR workshops”, in Modern Railways, page 291:
      Whatever the pressures that have invoked the Minister's diktat, the outcome is Gilbertian.
    • 2021 August 25, David Clough, “The Sleeper experience”, in RAIL, number 938, page 61:
      In May [1995], the court issued an interdict preventing the service withdrawal, pending consultation on the closure to passenger traffic of three short stretches of railway around Glasgow and its hinterland that were only used by the Fort William Sleeper - and for which BR had failed to invoke standard closure procedures.
  3. (transitive) To call to mind (something) for some purpose.
    • 1869, John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women:
      After marriage, the man had anciently (but this was anterior to Christianity) the power of life and death over his wife. She could invoke no law against him; he was her sole tribunal and law.
    • 1872, Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species:
      The acquisition of a useless part can hardly be said to raise an organism in the natural scale; and in the case of the imperfect, closed flowers, above described, if any new principle has to be invoked, it must be one of retrogression rather than of progression; and so it must be with many parasitic and degraded animals.
    • 1912, William Sharp McKechnie, The New Democracy and the Constitution:
      It is easier to invoke or to deplore democracy than to say exactly what it is.
  4. (transitive) To appeal for validation to a (notably cited) authority.
    In certain Christian circles, invoking the Bible constitutes irrefutable proof.
    • 1969, Philip Ziegler, The Black Death, Folio Society, published 2007, page 21:
      He invoked cadaveric poisoning as the reason for the high death rate among priests and monks []
  5. (transitive) To conjure up with incantations.
    This satanist ritual invokes Beelzebub.
  6. (transitive) To bring about as an inevitable consequence.
    Blasphemy is taboo as it may invoke divine wrath.
  7. (transitive, computing) To cause (a program or subroutine) to execute.
    Interactive programs let the users enter choices and invoke the corresponding routines.
    • 1974 August 7, “Wholesalers Gain Basic Facts”, in Computerworld:
      [] the selling price and cost of a particular item are derived by the system through a table lookup and assigned to the item at invoking time.
    • 2011, Stephen Prata, C++ Primer Plus:
      C++ lets you invoke an operator function either by calling the function or by using the overloaded operator with its usual syntax.


Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


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Further reading[edit]