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I hear a lot of people saying "Send me an invite". I always thought that it was an 'invitation'. Is "sending one an invite" accepted usage? Or is it incorrect? If I need to get my wedding invitation printed, should it read "Wedding Invitation" or a "Wedding Invite"? Is this a US/UK usage difference?

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I suppose if people can verb their nouns ("to friend someone") then they can noun their verbs. –  user57221 Nov 12 '13 at 17:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Invite has been in use as a colloquial form of invitation since at least the mid-seventeenth century. There’s nothing wrong with it in the right place, but in formal contexts such as a printed card invitation would be the word to use.

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Barrie, do you have a source for the seventeenth century usage? Intrigued. –  Lunivore May 25 '12 at 9:44
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@Lunivore: ‘Bishop Cranmer . . . gives him an earnest invite to England.’ From ‘The alliance of divine offices’ by Hamon l’Estrange (1659). The OED has this subsequent citation dated 1778 from Fanny Burney: ‘Every body Bowed, & accepted the invite but me . . . for I have no Notion of snapping at invites from the Great.’ –  Barrie England May 25 '12 at 9:58
    
Nice, thank you! –  Lunivore May 25 '12 at 10:04
    
+1 Brilliant as always. Barrie you are diamond old chap, I admire your knowledge and patience to explain to people like me. –  speedyGonzales May 25 '12 at 18:57
    
@speedyGonzales: You're most kind. –  Barrie England May 25 '12 at 19:00

Invitation is the more accepted noun to use.

Using invite as a noun is informal. I've found it prevalent in the U.S. and internet culture, though it's growing here in the U.K. too.

I suspect that the growth in usage comes from internet applications, particularly the developer-driven Facebook. Developers don't like to type or read any more text than they need to, and invitation is longer and harder to spell. We're so lazy. I apologise.

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Using invite is informal, but it is not slang. Barrie England has it right. –  Qube May 25 '12 at 9:06
    
Qube, you're right, edited accordingly. Relevant: english.stackexchange.com/questions/29720/… –  Lunivore May 25 '12 at 9:44
    
+1 sweetie, I think you are the only one that has shown us one of the modern use of invite. If older word used with new modern meaning is slang is not very clear from my point of view as language is not something constant and not moving and developing every day. –  speedyGonzales May 25 '12 at 19:03
    
Lunivore, you seem to be right. Invite seems to be used more often by Americans. For most of my life, I only heard people in the UK using invitation. I have noticed people using invite, over here, in the last few years. –  Tristan Nov 12 '13 at 21:48

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, editions 9, 10, and 11 (1983, 1993, and 2003) have all had this entry for invite as a noun:

invite n (1659): INVITATION 1

where "invitation 1" can mean "a: the act of inviting b: an often formal request to be present or participate." The 1659 date likely refers to the Hamon l'Estrange instance that Barrie England cites.

Editions 7 (1963) and 8 (1973) of the Collegiate Dictionary, however, include a significant additional label in their definition of the term:

invite n, chiefly dial: INVITATION 1

Their entry for invite as a noun lacks a first occurrence date because Merriam-Webster didn't start including that information until the Ninth Edition.

Earlier editions (1 through 6) of the Collegiate Dictionary have no entry for invite as a noun. Indeed, many English and American dictionaries fail to acknowledge the existence of invite as a noun in the period between 1756 and 1961: Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language (1756); Webster's Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806); Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1828); Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary (1845); Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1847); Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language (1864); Worcester's Comprehensive Dictionary (1874); Webster's International Dictionary (1890); Webster's New International Dictionary (1909); Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, First through Sixth Editions (1898, 1910, 1916, 1931, 1936, and 1949).

More-recent dictionaries do list invite as a noun, but often with usage labels that don't indicate unqualified support for using it in every situation where "invitation 1" might be appropriate. The Oxford Universal Dictionary (1955), for example, characterizes the noun form of invite as "colloq. or vulgar." Simon & Schuster's Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (1983) labels it "Slang." The Random House College Dictionary (1984) calls it "Chiefly Dial." And the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, First, Edition (1969), Third Edition (1992), and Fourth Edition (2000); the Encarta World English Dictionary (1999); the New Oxford American Dictionary (2001); and the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2002) all list it as "informal."

This record suggests three things: First, if invite as a noun was popular prior to Samuel Johnson's day, it went into so severe an eclipse over the 200-year period that followed his dictionary that (Fanny Burney's endorsement notwithstanding) no standard dictionary published between 1756 and 1961—aside from the Oxford Universal Dictionary—that I consulted included it all. Second, when it did begin to pop up in everyday, single-volume dictionaries starting in the 1960s, it did so with the explicit observation that it was a colloquial, vulgar, chiefly dialectal, slang, or informal term. Third, even in the crop of dictionaries that emerged in the period between 1999 and 2003, only Merriam-Webster's dictionary lists it without the label "informal."

As invite as a noun grows more and more common in everyday use, Merriam-Webster's decision to treat it as simply a standard English word (that is, as a word whose appearance in the dictionary doesn't call for a clarifying usage label) moves closer and closer to vindication. But at this point, it hasn't yet become completely interchangeable with "invitation 1."

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protected by RegDwigнt Nov 12 '13 at 20:59

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