Discussions about eggcorns and related topics
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Chris -- 2011-03-08
The Macmillan Dictionary defines “evoke” thusly:
to bring a particular emotion, idea, or memory into your mind
It defines “invoke” thusly:
to use a law or rule in order to achieve something
to mention a law, principle, or idea in order to support an argument or to explain an action
to mention the name of someone who is well known or well respected in order to support an argument
to make someone feel a particular emotion or see a particular image in their minds
to ask for help from someone who is stronger or more powerful, especially a god
to make the spirits of dead people appear by using magic powers
People get these two words mixed up a lot, and it’s tempting to see some eggcornicity in that. Googling “invokes strong feelings” yielded 276 hits. For instance:
Or it can be something wildly provocative that invokes strong feelings.
A lot of people see this video, and the video invokes strong feelings, cause it hits people where it hurts.
Misaki is sweet, innocent and kind, and she obviously invokes strong feelings in Sato…
But since one of the definitions of “invoke” (“to make someone feel a particular emotion or see a particular image in their minds”) is pretty much synonymous with “evoke”, it’s hard to make a case for eggcornicity unless we are to discuss the perp’s cognitive process with him/her.
But when we look at “evoke” for “invoke”, the situation is less ambiguous. Googling “evoke demons” yielded 490 hits, and they’re unlikely to be correct usage of “evoke”; they’re almost certainly an accidental substitution of “evoke” for “invoke”. For instance:
Article on how to evoke demons in a friendly/respectful manner, rather than the hostile manner common in grimoires.
...and in this way they had recourse to the geasa to evoke demons, for the purpose of winning knowledge from them…
Magicians would evoke demons and then master them so that the demons would become their servants.
And here’s one that, oddly, uses both invoke and evoke for the same meaning:
Is it possible to invoke Gods, Spirits, Angels, or Demi-Gods, evoke demons, or summon the dead?
In these and many more examples we clearly have a substitution of “evoke” for “invoke”, and that considerably increases the likelihood that many if not all of the examples of “invoke” for “evoke” were, similarly, substitutions rather than correct usage of “invoke” as a near-synonym for “evoke”. But are they eggcorns? I’m leaning toward thinking that they’re not, that they’re just examples of people confusing two similar words, because the sort of meaning attribution that distinguishes eggcorns isn’t there, as far as I can see. Any other opinions?