Can we use the word ‘invite’ as a noun?

Posted by on April 16, 2015 in Language Issues | 0 comments

Can we use the word ‘invite’ as a noun so it means ‘invitation’? I must admit that I was in a state of shock when, for the first time, I read the headline “Barack Obama accepts Narendra Modi’s invite” in an Indian newspaper.

Merriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary has an entry for the word ‘invite’ as a noun. However, in that entry the words “now chiefly dialect” indicate that it is better to avoid such usage in written English. The Oxford English Dictionary too suggests that such an use is “colloquial”. In the same dictionary the examples cited however suggest that the earliest examples of such usages date back to the seventeenth century. For example,
1659 H. L’Estrange Alliance Div. Off. 326 Bishop Cranmer‥gives him an earnest invite to England.

invite as noun

Bryan A. Garner in his excellent Modern American Usage is refreshingly candid and forthright with his prescription. He says, “Use it in the traditional way — as a verb. Avoid it as a noun displacing invitation.”

In The New Fowler’s Modern English Usage, R. W. Burchfield opines that it is “a classic example of a word that seems to have been in continuous use beside invitation since the mid 17c., but has never quite made its way into uncriticized neutral use.” Burchfield diplomatically concludes, “Seven decades later the general verdict is still that it properly belongs to the informal (even occasionally comic) corners of the language.”

It appears that for laymen like us, it is safe to avoid the use of ‘invite’ as a noun, especially in written English.

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