There is a quote from STAR TREK

Mirror Spock: One man cannot summon the future.
Capt. James T. Kirk: But one man can change the present.

What is the meaning of summon here?
predict or shape or maybe something else.

P.S. Curiously, the question is triggered by trying to translate a phrase from Rammstein's 'Die Zeit':

Zukunft kann man nicht beschwören...


1 Answer 1


One of the definitions provided by M-W is:

to call into being through the use of one's inner resources or powers

So the sentence

One man cannot summon the future.

means that a man cannot call the future into the present. One cannot make things to be happen in the present (just as one cannot turn back time). Note that this verb is often used with a subject designating a higher authority or power (divinity, a court, king, parliament etc. See this Ngram)

But you can, however, summon memories, as Shakespeare shows in his Sonnet 30:

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste.

  • 1
    This can be interpreted '[ so ] the sentence means A, but it could also mean B'. 'To summon is also to remember or imagine something' [CD] Oct 1 at 13:26

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