'Evoke' vs 'Invoke': What's the Difference?

By Katie Moore, updated on July 21, 2023

‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’: What’s the Difference? Sometimes words that look similar or function similarly can be changed by adding to their root. This article will not only be a guide to learning new words, but also to prefixes and suffixes and how we can use them to adjust meaning. 

In a hurry? Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll learn: 

  • ‘Evoke’ is a word that refers to calling something into your conscious mind.
  • ‘Invoke’ is a word that refers to calling upon something for action or inspiration. 

What’s the Difference Between ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’?

To truly understand the difference between these words, we need to learn more about their roots and their prefixes. The root of a word is the most basic part of the word that holds meaning, and a prefix is a set of letters added to the beginning of the word to change its meaning. 

The root of both ‘Evoke’ and ‘Invoke’ is “-voke” while the prefixes are “E-” and “In-” respectively. Let’s break down the root meaning first. 

  • The root “-voke” comes from the Latin word ‘vocare’ which means “to call,” which, if you’ll notice, appears in the definitions of both words. 

Now let’s take a look at the prefixes — “E-” and “In,” which are very common prefixes that often come in opposing pairs of words. 

  • ‘E-’ evolved from the original Latin prefix ‘Ex-,’ which means “out of” or “from,” while ‘In- is the original Latin prefix that means “inside” or “upon.”

As you can see, these prefixes generally connote two opposites, “in” and “out,” which are reflected in pairs like ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’ as well as others.

Here are some examples: 

  • Extrovert vs Introvert
  • External vs Internal 
  • Emigrate vs Immigrate
  • Explode vs Implode
  • Export vs Import 
  • Exfiltrate vs Infiltrate

So, in essence, ‘Evoke’ is to call something out of someone, while ‘Invoke’ is to call something into someone. This call doesn’t have to be spoken — and it certainly doesn’t mean call as in on the phone. 

Now that you know the basis of these words, you can use them as puzzle pieces to predict their meaning and the definitions of other words that use the same prefixes. But let’s dive deeper into the definitions of ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke.’

Definition of ‘Evoke’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Evoke’ is a verb that means: 

  • Bring or recall to the conscious mind
    • “The sight of New York pizza evokes pleasant memories of childhood.”
  • Elicit (a response)
    • “The awkward kid who evoked giggles from his sister.”
  • To invoke a spirit or deity
    • “Akasha is evoked in India when a house is being built to ensure its completion.”

Synonyms of ‘Evoke’

  • Induce
  • Stimulate
  • Arouse
  • Conjure
  • Elicit
  • Provoke
  • Recall
  • Awaken
  • Extract

Antonyms of ‘Evoke’

  • Calm
  • Deaden
  • Decrease
  • Ignore
  • Repress
  • Halt 
  • Stop
  • Quell
  • Suppress

Phrases with ‘Evoke’

  • Evoke emotions
  • Evoke memory

Definition of ‘Invoke’: What Does it Mean?

According to Oxford Languages, ‘Invoke’ is a verb that means:f

  • Cite 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.”
  • Call on (a deity or spirit) in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration
  • Call earnestly for
    • “She invoked his help against this attack.”
  • Summon a spirit by charms or incantation
  • Give rise to; evoke
    • “How could she explain the accident without invoking his wrath?”
  • A cause or procedure to be carried out (in computing)

Synonyms for ‘Invoke’

  • Call upon
  • Appeal to
  • Beseech
  • Conjure
  • Beg
  • Adjure
  • Intreat
  • Plead
  • Pray
  • Summon
  • Solicit

Antonyms of ‘Invoke’

  • Answer
  • Give
  • Reply
  • Waive
  • Impede
  • Subdue
  • Stifle

Phrases with ‘Invoke’

  • Invoke a law
  • Invoke the spirit

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’

One of the key components to learning new words is learning how to properly pronounce them because we don’t just use new words in our writing but in conversations as well. We want to equip you with all the necessary tools to build vocabulary, so use this section to ensure you’re using proper pronunciation.

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Evoke’ as a guide: 

  • ‘e-vohk’ (with the emphasis on the second syllable)

Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Invoke’ as a guide: 

  • ‘Ihn-vohk’ (with the first syllable sounding like “win”)

How To Use ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’ in a Sentence

The interesting thing about this pair of words is that while they signify opposing ideas, they are also strangely used to define each other.

So then, how do we know when to use which word? 

The final key to learning new words is being able to use them in the proper setting, and knowing the right contexts in which they appear is the best way to master this. One of the best ways to do this is by reading and practicing example sentences. Take a look at a few below, then try writing some of your own. 

‘Evoke’ Example Sentences

  • He wanted his art to evoke a feeling of sadness, so he used lots of dark, cold colors. 
  • The ancient Greeks would evoke the spirit of the oracle Delphi when they wanted to receive a prophecy. 
  • The nearness of the holidays evoked memories of opening presents and baking cookies. 
  • When the nerd dropped his books, it evoked a feeling of pity from his classmates. 

‘Invoke’ Example Sentences

  • The kids used an Ouija board to try to invoke their ancestors to the abandoned home. 
  • The mother invoked a no-talking rule for five minutes as a consequence of the children’s bad behavior
  • The lawyer invoked the first amendment as a defense in his trial about vandalism. 
  • She wanted to ask if she could attend the party without invoking her parent’s suspicion about the event. 

Final Advice on ‘Evoke’ vs ‘Invoke’

Pairs of opposing words can be helpful to learn because you unlock a multitude of scenarios where you are prepared for both outcomes. Through this article, you’ve learned new definitions, both of our new words and of their roots and prefixes, as well as how to use these words given a variety of contexts. 

Want a quick recap? Here’s an overview of what we learned: 

  • ‘Evoke’ is a verb meaning to call something to the conscious mind or to call out,
  • Meanwhile, ‘Invoke’ is a verb meaning to call up someone or something for advice or inspiration or to call in. 
  • Prefixes are letters that are added to the beginning of a word to change its meaning. 

Be sure to check out other confusing word articles to learn how prefixes can affect sets of words and also see what they mean. Keep practicing your example sentences, and remember that context is key when using opposing words.

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Written By:
Katie Moore
Katie is a recent graduate of Occidental College where she worked as a writer and editor for the school paper while studying linguistics and journalism. She loves helping others find their voice in writing and making their work the strongest it can be. Katie also loves learning and speaking other languages and wants to help make writing accessible for everyone.

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