All right, it's time for another quick run down of two similar English words that we see writers mix up from time to time: invoke and evoke. Not only do these two words sound alike, but they also have similar meanings. English is fun, right?
To invoke something or someone is to call upon it/them, usually for some sort of aid or presence. Occasionally, invoke is also used in legal situations: to invoke the law. If you've attended a religious ceremony, you may have heard prayers called an "invocation."
He invoked the law against jay-walking.
The Pastafarian invoked the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The desperate writer invoked the Muse Erato, which was an unfortunate choice since she wanted to write Middle Grade novels.
To evoke something, on the other hand, usually refers to less tangible things. You can evoke a mood or a memory; you can also evoke a reaction, like laughter or protests, from an audience; you can even evoke a spirit by summoning. (I'll admit that last one was a usage I don't think I've seen before.)
The smell of cinnamon evoked a memory of winter and warm cookies.
The comedian evoked a chorus of boos from the crowd.
The child evoked the spirit of the house's past owner. His success evoked a wave of terror through the neighborhood. His mother then invoked the family's patron saint.
To sum up: Calling on a specific person or force or law? Typically INVOKING.
Calling up something intangible? Typically EVOKING.
Hopefully our posts evoke in you a renewed desire to keep on writing and editing!
Every Wednesday and Saturday we bring you an edit tip of the day. Be sure to check out the archives for our popular summer series of SHOW DON'T TELL workshops!