Definition of invention in US English:



  • 1The action of inventing something, typically a process or device.

    ‘the invention of printing in the 15th century’
    • ‘The movement to merge art with daily social life is the legacy of the revolutionary avant-garde, a legacy that is bound to the rise of technological invention in modern society.’
    • ‘Very much like the issuance of a patent by the US Patent Office on any crazy notion, implies that the idea, invention, process, actually exists or works?’
    • ‘The internet is a significant technological invention, on par with the Gutenburg press.’
    • ‘Artistic pursuit can come in many forms such as research, invention, poetry or painting.’
    • ‘It used to be a real problem to refine sugar before his invention made the process simpler and more profitable.’
    • ‘The present invention relates to a method of measuring motion of an object such as a heart by magnetic resonance imaging.’
    • ‘Church elders speak with pride of the 403 toilets and, in particular, of their own invention, a machine capable of dispensing 40 cups of communion wine every two seconds.’
    • ‘In accordance with the present invention a filtering process is based on the output side of a multimedia decoder.’
    • ‘Thomas Edison's first invention was a tabulation device that showed visitors to a state legislature exactly how lawmakers were voting on every bill.’
    • ‘The promotion of renewable energy resources and energy conservation through technological invention provides one example of success.’
    • ‘The device of this invention comprises a optoelectronic element, a cover, and an adhesive.’
    • ‘To him, the process of invention seems the best possibility for mankind, no matter how harebrained, unreasonable or hilarious the scheme.’
    • ‘It is the step or process of the claimed invention.’
    • ‘The cobbler's work became easier with Lyman Reed Blake's invention of a sewing machine that sewed the soles of shoes to their upper parts in 1858.’
    • ‘By far his most successful invention was the process which bears his name for making steel - previously an expensive material in short supply - available in bulk.’
    • ‘Another great piece of work was his invention of harmonic measure in 1936.’
    • ‘As a starting point for the process of invention he began with a kernel of fact, often based on a highly selective response to the archaeological data.’
    • ‘He hoped that his new invention would speed the process of her recovery.’
    • ‘The washing machine emerged as listeners' favourite technological invention for the home.’
    • ‘Two friends clash over what to do with their latest invention - a device which allows time travel over short periods.’
    origination, creation, innovation, devising, contriving, contrivance, formulation, development, design
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    1. 1.1 Something, typically a process or device, that has been invented.
      ‘medieval inventions included spectacles for reading and the spinning wheel’
      • ‘The parallel inventions of lifts and mechanical air-conditioning in the building industry allowed the vertical stacking of patient accommodation atop podiums.’
      • ‘In the EU, he says, IBM is one of the strongest supporters of the proposed directive on computer implemented inventions, a very controversial piece of legislation.’
      • ‘When people talk about humanity's greatest achievements, they tend to reel off useful inventions like the wheel, vaccination and rockets.’
      • ‘Businesses are facing an increasing risk of having their ideas, inventions, systems and processes stolen, which could cost them thousands of pounds and in some cases cause serious damage.’
      • ‘Among his many inventions was an elegant device for pumping water uphill for irrigation purposes.’
      • ‘A shame since it includes the weapons, sabotage devices and other inventions which undoubtedly frustrated the German forces.’
      • ‘The hook details the trail of specific inventions; filters, electronic pattern recognition, artificial intelligence.’
      • ‘Utility patents - unlike design or plant patents - are granted for inventions of machines, processes, and products.’
      • ‘To do this, we identified approximately 2,400 distinct patent classes that contained semiconductor product, device, and design inventions.’
      • ‘At the same time, scientists make laboratory use of many of these same technical inventions: transistors, computer hardware, and gene guns, for example.’
      • ‘As with many modern inventions, Lawton's device was a culmination of ideas and experimentation involving many people.’
      • ‘The agricultural world also had its contributions to the list of medieval inventions.’
      • ‘All our devices and inventions will fail us if there is a collapse of the human spirit.’
      • ‘Masterful with machinery, he patented several mechanical inventions which had varying degrees of viability.’
      • ‘Like most scientific inventions, television can be a double-edged weapon.’
      • ‘But don't destroy their good inventions in the process.’
      • ‘His inventions include an electronic microinjection device and a flexible substrate for cell culture.’
      • ‘He produced all sorts of inventions, including an electric device for locating metal in human tissue.’
      • ‘Patents protect underlying ideas of useful inventions and processes, such as a chemical reaction or an inventive mechanical device.’
      • ‘Among his many inventions was a machine gun so overburdened with gadgets that it was unsuitable for any purpose other than mechanical curiosity.’
      innovation, origination, creation, design, contraption, contrivance, construction, device, gadget, apparatus, machine
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    2. 1.2 Creative ability.
      ‘his powers of invention were rather limited’
      • ‘In my view, American board game manufacturers have always considered design secondary to invention and placed the novel and gimmicky over solid ideas.’
      • ‘Jan's technical ability, artistic invention, and intellect were universally recognized, by writers and artists in Italy as well as the Netherlands.’
      • ‘It's about taking actions every day in a sensible way with a little bit of creativity and invention.’
      • ‘These are the paintings which seem to me to proclaim Rembrandt's powers of invention and execution as of a different order from contemporaries and pupils.’
      • ‘The notion of invention, of creation, is submerged in the long line of intellectual forebears.’
      • ‘By exercising its considerable powers of invention, and by manipulating light and geometry, the practice has completely altered the space.’
      • ‘The development of new technology was always a matter of invention - of creative solutions.’
      • ‘He represents two human figures of his own textual invention and creation whose particular forms make up the variables of his experiments: the body of a blind woman and that of a hunchback man.’
      • ‘Think also of our creative invention in the languages that we know well.’
      • ‘Schoenberg opened the flood gates of creative invention and, along the way, may have driven a schism between composers and their audiences.’
      • ‘The outlaw as defiant nonconformist, as well as social outcast, parallels being an artist who makes functional objects and being an individual who takes pride in the power of invention and skill.’
      • ‘In dry climates, necessity has become the mother of invention in garden design.’
      • ‘Huge amounts of energy, invention, and creativity that could have gone into science or technology and into improving the quality of life are channelled into security.’
      • ‘Despite the praise given to Burgess's powers of invention, much of his work derives from real-life scenarios.’
      • ‘Yet these are still fascinating questions, questions that provoke us and bring forth all kinds of creative thought and invention.’
      • ‘Produced in the studio, his works are based on his memory and powers of invention.’
      • ‘Reclaiming this moment in the history of rhetorical memory reintroduces memory as a process of imagination and invention.’
      • ‘Against this background, itself a testament to endeavour, the modern objects testify to the great diversity of invention and to human creativity.’
      • ‘Why unrefined, ill-informed, loose oral expressions seem to displace thoroughness, creativity, innovation, invention and skill.’
      • ‘Always remember that moving from an interesting but vague idea, to specific and actionable is the difficult part of creation and invention.’
      inventiveness, originality, creativity, creativeness, imagination, imaginativeness, inspiration
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    3. 1.3 Something fabricated or made up.
      ‘you know my story is an invention’
      • ‘But so what if their stories are inventions that have been thoroughly discredited?’
      • ‘A hunter of big names, he hungered to become one himself, and won through the invention of his fairy tales.’
      • ‘He seduces us easily with the mythology of their marriage, its collaborative fictional invention.’
      • ‘The legend of Robin Hood, inventions or stories on which intellectual property protections have lapsed, and the Linux operating system are simply not cases of ownership at all.’
      • ‘Different writers define memes in different ways, but they include ideas, skills, habits, inventions, stories, you name it.’
      • ‘The invention, the story, the gags make it all irresistible and completely satisfying.’
      • ‘Tolkien was more preoccupied with his invention of an artificial mythology than with character development.’
      • ‘When it turned out that the motorcycle story was an invention, they were even less pleased about this fantasy Web site.’
      • ‘If the invention of such a story would be possible, it would have been imitated many, many times; one just can't invent such a story and get away with it.’
      • ‘Sure it might be about identity as ‘an invention based on myths and half-truths’, but is also typical of most video art - boring.’
      • ‘Or was the latest story a pure invention to enable the government to avoid Washington's displeasure?’
      fabrication, concoction, fiction, piece of fiction, yarn, story, tale, figment of one's imagination
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    4. 1.4 Used as a title for a short piece of music.
      ‘Bach's two-part Inventions’
      • ‘Bach wrote a number of 2-part and 3-part Inventions for keyboard.’
      • ‘At least a few of Bach's two-part inventions are well-known to beginning piano students, general media consumers and, sadly, cell-phone users.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘finding out, discovery’): from Latin inventio(n-), from invenire ‘discover’ (see invent).