Difference Between Invoke and Evoke

Main Difference – Invoke vs Evoke

Although evoke and invoke sound and look similar, there is a subtle difference between invoke and evoke. Invoke means to call for support or aid whereas evoke means to summon or call forth. This is the main difference between invoke and evoke. This difference will be further explored by looking at the meaning and the usage of these two words.

Invoke – Meaning and Usage

Invoke comes from the Latin invocare (in- ‘upon’ + vocare ‘to call’) as the origin of this verb suggests, invoke  refers to calling upon something. There are two main meanings of this verb.

To call upon a deity or spirit in prayer, as a witness, or for inspiration/ summon through incantations

The goddess of fire was invoked by the priestess.

They held a religious ceremony to invoke the spirits.

The bearded priest claimed that he could invoke the holy spirits to assist them.

To cite or appeal to someone or something as an authority for an action or in support of an argument

He invoked his right to an attorney.

They invoked the aid of France against this attack.

The student invoked the history to prove her point.

When compared with evoke, invoke can be termed as a more direct and intentional action. Furthermore, the verb invoke is used with more practical and material things than evoke, which is usually associated with feelings and emotions.

Difference Between Invoke and Evoke

The shaman invoked the holy spirits.

Evoke – Meaning and Usage

Evoke means to call forth or bring to mind. The verb evoke is used in reference to memories, emotions, feelings, responses, etc. Evoke usually implies an indirect action, it is not something that is done intentionally. For example,

This picture evokes unpleasant memories of my childhood.

His jokes evoked laughter from the audience.

His story evoked sympathy from everyone.

The taste of chocolate and the smell of the sea evoked memories of his childhood.

This poem evokes a nostalgic yearning for simple and uncomplicated country life.

The drama evoked a critical reaction from the elite society.

Main Difference - Invoke vs Evoke

The postcard evoked nostalgic memories of her childhood.

Difference Between Invoke and Evoke

Basic Meaning

Invoke refers to calling upon something.

Evoke means to call forth or bring to conscious mind.


Invoke means either to call forth for help or support or to appeal to or cite as authority.

Evoke means to bring or recall a feeling, memory, or image to the conscious mind.


Invoke implies a direct and an intentional action.

Evoke implies an indirect and unintentional action.

Active vs Passive

Invoke is more active and direct than evoke.

Evoke is less active and direct than invoke.


Invoke is used with reference to more material and practical things.

Evoke is used with reference to intangible things like memories, feelings, emotions, etc.


Invocation is the noun of invoke.

Evocation is the noun of evoke.Difference Between Invoke and Evoke - infographic

Image Courtesy:

“Schamane während einer Kamlanie-Zeremonie am Feuer in Kysyl” by Dr. Andreas Hugentobler – Own work.  (CC BY 2.0 de) via Commons 

“Austrian Postcard 1901” by Unknown – scanned from Austrian postcard, dated 1901. (Public Domain) via Commons

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