Definition of invoke in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Cite or appeal to (someone or something) as an authority for an action or in support of an argument.

    ‘the antiquated defense of insanity is rarely invoked today’
    • ‘In support of this claim, they invoke the archaic Greeks, often citing Hesiod's Works and Days, among other classical sources.’
    • ‘Solomon invokes the term ‘stakeholder’ to dismiss Friedman's argument that the ethical responsibilities of business stop with stockholders.’
    • ‘Back then the same arguments were used to invoke the people to vote, the same grim scenario of a hardliner-dominated regime who would stifle all the progress made were told and retold again and again.’
    • ‘And those who support the penalty readily invoke the wishes of the grieving mother who cries out for the blood of her baby's killer.’
    • ‘Whereas others opted for one of the two theories by invoking arguments or authorities, Beguelin made a systematic search for experiments which he hoped would settle the dispute.’
    • ‘It is a reflection of the degradation of public debate that political and medical authorities are now reduced to invoking the simplistic morality of children to make them feel good about themselves.’
    • ‘Throughout his argument Lord Kingsland repeatedly invoked the well-recognised EC principles of legal certainty and proportionality.’
    • ‘The author invokes the strength of medical authority to his denial of the negative impact on health intrinsic to the operation of such a smelter.’
    • ‘Many of the lefty bloggers have lately been pursuing one of their persuasion's favourite follies: selecting a congenial conclusion and then invoking spurious science to support it.’
    • ‘Berrigan and Charnov invoke field data supporting such a correlation, but they call the appearance of a tradeoff between these two parameters a major puzzle.’
    • ‘Since the attack, Canadian authorities have invoked the threat of terrorism to justify a clamp down on protests that extends well beyond Kananaskis County.’
    • ‘The question is the wisdom of proceeding without U.N. authority where we have invoked the resolutions of the U.N. as the basis for an attack.’
    • ‘However Stephen Matthews lost some support when he invoked the women's suffrage movement.’
    • ‘The King's Men apparently heard about Pavier's planned collection and invoked the protection of authority.’
    • ‘Moral indignation was invoked to support the violation.’
    • ‘Two other arguments are invoked in support of the rule.’
    • ‘Sir Rabbie Namaliu invoking the bygones be bygones argument says hammering out the agreement was a matter of discussion.’
    • ‘To make exclusions - to excuse the invaders - is to invoke a moral difference argument, which I don't believe a democracy can tolerate.’
    • ‘Dana's attorneys did try to make this argument, invoking a federal statute that allows damages awards for constitutional rights violations.’
    • ‘The philosophy of ‘naturalism’ is imposed upon the evidence so that the authority of science is invoked for a secular view of the world.’
    cite, refer to, adduce, instance
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    1. 1.1 Call on (a deity or spirit) in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration.
      • ‘Say, does someone around here knows anything about the Maori dance to invoke the [spirit/soul/strength] of your ancestors?’
      • ‘In the fervent chant of prayers, this energy rises to join with the prayers of thousands of other voices invoking the Goddess Liberty.’
      • ‘Offer prayers continuously invoking mercy of God upon your dead father and mother.’
      • ‘In Bombay, Indian police arrest four men suspected of being members of Harakat al-Ansar, a Kashmiri separatist group that also invokes the deity in its works.’
      • ‘But when the Goddess was invoked by the priestess, I felt what I had always experienced as the Holy Spirit come down.’
      • ‘Religious services were held at sunrise - part of the priest's duty being to invoke the planetary deity of the day.’
      • ‘Listen to our President invoking a deity or prayer in every one of his speeches, and maybe an answer will occur to you.’
      • ‘The dangri's role is to invoke the local protective Deities who enter into and occupy the body of the dhami.’
      • ‘It is believed that the word samba is derived from a West African Bantu word, meaning to pray or invoke the spirits of their ancestors.’
      • ‘It becomes, in one, his mistress, a deity to be invoked, and the source of poetic madness.’
      • ‘I continue to invoke the Holy Spirit; I rely on the Word.’
      • ‘Finally, based on our relation with the master and the wisdom deity, we also invoke the assistance of the dharma protectors, who embody action principles of awareness.’
      • ‘Since God does not coerce, human efforts and prayers invoking divine aid make a difference in the workings of chance and necessity.’
      • ‘It is not, however, only a matter of when the Spirit is invoked, but how the action of the Spirit is understood in baptism and in confirmation.’
      • ‘If Christ is the one mediator, what place is there for invoking the Blessed Virgin in prayer?’
      • ‘Finally, he invoked the Holy Spirit directly for aid and understanding.’
      • ‘What image of the Spirit might be invoked for the next stage of the human pilgrimage?’
      • ‘This Ash Wednesday text by Brian Wren invokes the Holy Spirit to help us through this time of penitence and self-examination.’
      • ‘The milder and more beneficent forces of nature were addressed as female deities and invoked with prayers.’
      • ‘In it the Epiklesis invokes the Holy Spirit over the assembled congregation, but not on the elements.’
      pray to, call on, appeal to, plead with, supplicate, entreat, solicit, beseech, beg, implore, importune, petition
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    2. 1.2 Call earnestly for.
      ‘she invoked his help against this attack’
    3. 1.3 Summon (a spirit) by charms or incantation.
      • ‘Then a grand puja is performed invoking the spirit of Pancha Ganapati in the home.’
      • ‘A bearded sorcerer is busy invoking spirits with his incantation, his glazed eyes staring into the distance and all aglow in the dark.’
      • ‘Aladdin's nemesis, Jafar, has long since been despatched to the after-life, but his evil sister Nasira has found a way to bring back the dastardly villain by invoking the ‘spell of restoration’.’
      • ‘In Wicca, we also invoke deities into our circles.’
      • ‘I think the whole question of whether certain spiritual practices or philosophies inevitably lead you to invoke a particular spirit is the one that's crucial to me.’
      • ‘And once you have invoked your spirit to sing with you, they invoke those unheard notes within you which is the form of communication with other spirits.’
      • ‘To invoke a deity, power, or spirit is to allow yourself to become a ‘tube’ that passes energy and wisdom though your body so that others may receive it.’
      summon, call, call up, bring, conjure, conjure up
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    4. 1.4 Give rise to; evoke.
      ‘how could she explain how the accident happened without invoking his wrath?’
      • ‘It will also be able to add quietly and effectively to its own wealth and to the wealth of its favorite groups, and without incurring the wrath that taxes often invoke.’
      bring forth, bring on, elicit, induce, cause, kindle, bring out
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    5. 1.5Computing Cause (a procedure) to be carried out.
      • ‘Can I use a Java application instead of a JSP (JavaServer Page) to invoke a servlet on an application server?’
      • ‘The only possible operation is to read data when Read-Only Mode is invoked.’
      • ‘This article describes the steps to change the default image editor application, which is invoked from the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.’


Late 15th century: from French invoquer, from Latin invocare, from in- ‘upon’ + vocare ‘to call’.