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Is there a term or phrase to describe an invitation you extend to someone only because you expect that they will not accept it? I've been using the made up "faux-vite," but I suspect there must be a proper name for this.

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+1 Interesting. :) – Alenanno Jan 30 '12 at 16:57
Welcome to the site. An upvote to get you going. – Tom Au Jan 30 '12 at 18:44
up vote 11 down vote accepted

You could call that a pro forma invitation.

pro for·ma
1. Done as a formality; perfunctory.

In fact, perfunctory itself would serve:

1. Done routinely and with little interest or care: The operator answered the phone with a perfunctory greeting.
2. Acting with indifference; showing little interest or care.

If it were required that you invite someone even though you might not want to, you might label it an obligatory invitation.

But there are no long-standing words I know of that pertain only to invitations (such as your faux-vite).

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Thank you, I think perfunctory will do just fine! – Jessie Jan 30 '12 at 15:34
I think there is a difference between a perfunctory invitation and not wanting someone to accept the invitation at all. – Eduardo Jan 30 '12 at 15:42
I think pro forma applies to the obligatory invitation (you're inviting all the cousins so you include Bob even though you don't actually know him), but I'm not sure it conveys "don't want him to accept". I can't tell if the OP doesn't expect an acceptance or actively doesn't wnat one. – Monica Cellio Jan 31 '12 at 15:43

I've heard this called an "unvite," but maybe that was just on Seinfeld.

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They could be described as as token or nominal invitations. Either would suggest that only the most basic socially acceptable gesture has been extended to the recipients.

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A "courtesy invitation" is extended when you don't really expect it to be accepted.

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I've heard it called a non-vite (spelling? perhaps nonvite. I've only heard it), but that was likely idiolectic.

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I always thought this was called a "sailor's invitation" but I cannot find the term listed on the internet.

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I just ran a Google Books search for "a sailor's invitation," and it doesn't return any matches that have the sense you refer to in your answer. Perhaps a similar phrase (with the intended meaning) exists but differs in some crucial way from the wording you give. – Sven Yargs Nov 7 '15 at 8:54

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