Although there is good cause to argue against the use of invite as a noun—mainly that we already have invitation, a perfectly good word—the assumption that this is a recent development is simply wrong. The Oxford English Dictionaries cites examples of invite as a noun from as long ago as the 17th and 18th centuries,1 and additional examples from the early 19th century onward are easily found (see below). The word might be marginally more common in the last few years because of the tendency toward brevity in social media and text messaging, but it is far from new.
Of course, while invite as a noun is sanctioned by historical usage, some people still consider it informal or even incorrect, so the more formal-sounding invitation is the safer choice in any type of writing where you need to be taken seriously. The prejudice against invite might be based on mistaken assumptions, yet we can’t ignore it.
Incidentally, invite as a noun is usually pronounced differently from the verb. The verb is in-VITE, while the noun has the accent on the first syllable—IN-vite.
Neither Mr. Franklin, or Mr. Oldacre was ever in Mr. Senior’s house, or on his farm
, and the invite given by Mr. S. to Mr. Jellicoe to visit him was made and accepted. [The Farmer’s Magazine (London) (1838)]
[T]he whole of the pauper children, about fifty in number, and several adult paupers of the Colchester Union-house, received an invite from the Reverend Dr. Seaman. [The Spectator (a British weekly journal) (1850)]
Mrs. Wickham sent me a most kind invitation, and others sent invites. [A Lady’s Maid in Downing Street, Auguste Schlüter (1884)]
I want you to be sure to ask Mr. Dangar for an invite for the ball to-night. [Three Plays for the Australian Stage, Arthur Henry Adams (1914)]
Joe Lewis has sent invites to local pals to witness his Hollywood marriage to lovely Martha Stewart. [Palm Beach Daily News (1945)]
New York’s Downtown Athletic Club sent invites Thursday to five Heisman hopefuls. [Chicago Tribune (1985)]
Other Europeans to have received invites include Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Miguel Angel Jimenez. [BBC (2002)]
It wasn’t in the festival guide, but an invite-only shindig hosted by Universal Music Canada offered drinks, snacks and so much more. [Globe and Mail]