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Definition of Invention

(noun) The creation of a product or introduction of a process for the first time; something new.

Invention Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: in·ven·tion

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /in-vEn-shuhn/
  • British English – /in-vEn-shuhn/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ɪnˈvɛnʃən/
  • British English – /ɪnˈvɛnʃən/

Usage Notes

  • Plural: inventions
  • Invention and innovation are often used interchangeably, however they are different concepts. An invention is always something new, an innovation improves or uses something in a new way.
    • An invention is unprecedented and novel, an innovations adds value to existing goods or services,
    • An invention creates or discovers, an innovation transforms or updates,
  • Inventions can have unintended consequences, requiring changes to laws. For example, after the invention of the telephone, wiretapping law had to be created. A United State’s Supreme Court case in 1928 ruled it was not illegal, as there was no physical intrusion (see Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438) and thus was not an “unseasonable searches and seizures” which is protected in the Constitution under the 4th amendment.
  • An (nouninventor (verbinvents inventions that are (adjectiveinventive.

Related Quotation

  • “Today scholars are beginning to realize that ‘race‘ is nothing more and nothing less than a social invention. It has nothing to do with the intrinsic, or potential, qualities of the physically differing populations, but much to do with the allocation of power, privilege, and wealth among them” (Smedley 1998:698–99).

Additional Information

Related Terms


Smedley, Audrey. 1998. “‘Race’ and the Construction of Human Identity.” American Anthropologist 100(3):690–702.

Works Consulted

Ferrante, Joan. 2011. Sociology: A Global Perspective. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Griffiths, Heather, Nathan Keirns, Eric Strayer, Susan Cody-Rydzewski, Gail Scaramuzzo, Tommy Sadler, Sally Vyain, Jeff Bry, Faye Jones. 2016. Introduction to Sociology 2e. Houston, TX: OpenStax.

Henslin, James M. 2012. Sociology: A Down-to-Earth Approach. 10th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Hughes, Michael, and Carolyn J. Kroehler. 2011. Sociology: The Core. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Kendall, Diana. 2011. Sociology in Our Times. 8th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Macionis, John, and Kenneth Plummer. 2012. Sociology: A Global Introduction. 4th ed. Harlow, England: Pearson Education.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Ravelli, Bruce, and Michelle Webber. 2016. Exploring Sociology: A Canadian Perspective. 3rd ed. Toronto: Pearson.

Schaefer, Richard. 2013. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Shepard, Jon M. 2010. Sociology. 11th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Shepard, Jon M., and Robert W. Greene. 2003. Sociology and You. New York: Glencoe.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Invention

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “invention.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved April 17, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/invention/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

invention. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/invention/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “invention.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed April 17, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/invention/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“invention.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/invention/>.