Can 'Invite' Be a Noun?

Is turning a verb such as "invite" into a noun acceptable when we already have the word "invitation"? Is it abominable? It depends on the word.

Samantha Enslen, read by Mignon Fogarty,
Episode #626
a man with an invitation--or an invite

Recently, Grammar Girl listener Keith Dahl‎ wrote in with an interesting question. Here’s what he said: 

“I notice that people often use ‘invite’ as a noun, as in ‘I’ll send you an invite.’ I think this is improperly used, but it is so common that I wonder if it is becoming acceptable. … I freely admit that I’m rather old school when it comes to grammar rules. Your thoughts?”

Well, Keith, here are several thoughts. 

Let’s start by observing that you’re right: people do use the word “invite” as a noun. We can tell this by doing a search on Google Ngrams, a tool that charts how frequently words are used. Ngrams shows us that this word’s use as a noun (as in, “to send someone an invite”) is dwarfed by its use as a verb (as in, “to invite someone”). But the usage does occur. 

We can also note that using “invite” as a noun, although it might seem new, is actually quite old. It was first recorded in 1659 in a religious text. A certain Bishop Cramer offers a colleague suffering religious persecution “an earnest invite to England, with promises of ample promotion.”

The use of “invite” as a verb has an earlier recorded use, from 1553. It shows up in a list of instructions for sailors: “If you shall be invited into any Lords or Rulers [sic] house … be warie [sic] of woods and ambushes, and that your weapons be not out of your possession.” Good advice!


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