Invoke vs. Evoke – What’s the Difference?

Two English terms that many people easily confuse are invoke and evoke. Both words mean to give rise to. However, there is a distinction between what concepts or ideas to which they give rise.

This post covers the difference between invoke vs. evoke and how to use them in sentences. 

Invoke vs. Evoke

The difference between the terms evoke and invoke is that invoke is used to make a direct request, enact a rule, or cite an authority. Evoke means to call to mind a memory, feeling, or image. 

When to Use Invoke and Evoke

Invoke vs. evoke may both be verbs, but they have considerable differences in meanings and use. 

In the English language, we use invoke when you want to call on, appeal to, or make a formal request. An additional meaning of invoke is when performing an enactment of rules or policies. 

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Example:

  • The chairman tried to invoke an obscure rule but failed.

Invoke is also appropriate outside the legal context. You can use this word when citing a person of authority or supernatural beings such as God.

Use evoke when you want to call to mind an image, feeling, or memory due to an object. For instance, a specific smell might evoke childhood memories. Martin Luther King’s speech also evoked a strong type of emotion from the audience. 

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Example:

  • The pop-rock band’s music evokes Led Zeppelin.

Some emotions a person can evoke include sympathy, joy, or a sad feeling. You can also evoke association, a physical reaction, or a mental reaction. This process of recalling mental images and feelings is called evocation. 

Evoking emotions to produce a visceral reaction is a creative writing technique. You can achieve this strategy through clear word choice and detailed stories. 

Example:

  • The ending of the book evoked a feeling of loneliness in me.

The common meanings and subtle difference between the two words lies in their common root words. Notice how both invoke and evoke end with the root -voke. 

Like revoke and provoke, the root comes from the Latin root vocare or voc, which means call. Other romance languages use similar words with the same root word. 

How to Remember the Difference

A quick memory trick will help you recall the difference between invoke vs. evoke. Remember that evoke starts with the letter “e,” which refers to the context of emotions. When a memory triggers an emotion in you, it means it has evoked an internal reaction or feeling in you. 

Invoke Synonyms

  • Cite.
  • Refer to.
  • Turn to.
  • Call into use.
  • Use.
  • Put into effect.
  • Summon. 
  • Bring forth.

Evoke Synonyms

  • Call up.
  • Elicit.
  • Stimulate.
  • Induce.
  • Raise.
  • Express.
  • Bring to mind.
  • Conjure up.

Examples of Invoke in a Sentence

  • I have the power to invoke this school rule. 

The House select committee investigating January 6 is zeroing in on former officials from Trump’s Cabinet for testimony and is particularly interested in learning more about conversations among officials about possibly invoking the 25th Amendment after the US Capitol attack [CNN].

The Shivlinga is worshiped and bathed with curd, water, honey, sugar, ghee, milk, saffron, sandal paste and fruit juice. This seems to have been done while chanting the Shiva Mantra to invoke God [Economic Times India]

Prosecutors say that Clark confirmed in the interview that at no point did Trump ever invoke executive privilege over Bannon’s testimony — and directly contradicted other claims made by Bannon’s defense team in their case [ABC News].

Rule 86A can be invoked even if there is a NIL credit balance at the time of invoking the said rule [Study Cafe].

Examples of Evoke in a Sentence

  • She makes a request for polka music at parties to evoke memories of her later mother.
  • The smell of engine oil evokes memories of my grandfather working at a machine shop.
  • The smell of chocolate cake evokes good memories for people.

The crenelated roofline may feel antiquated but the pattern of the slender windows, some in the shape of a diamond, evoke an 8-bit digital design [LA Times].

Russell’s death at 88 on Sunday predictably evoked relished memories of meeting the most prolific instigator of championships in the history of American team sports [NY Times].

What Does it Mean to Invoke Change?

To invoke change means to call or petition for change. For instance, people may invoke change through a protest. 

What is to Evoke in Communication?

Evoking a response in people is essential for two-way communication. For example, when public speaking, you want to cause your audience to be touched or teary-eyed by your speech. 

Summary of Invoke vs. Evoke

There is only a slight difference between invoke and evoke because of their common root words. The key difference is that invoke is for rules, policies, and persons or authority, while evoke is for memories and powerful emotions.  So, you can Invoke God or a school policy, but you evoke love or teenage memories.