c.1400, "devised method of organization," from Old French invencion (13c.) and directly from Latin inventionem (nominative inventio) "faculty of invention; a finding, discovery," noun of action from past participle stem of invenire "devise, discover, find," from in- "in, on" (see in- (2)) + venire "to come" (see venue).
Meaning "finding or discovering of something" is early 15c. in English; sense of "thing invented" is first recorded 1510s. Etymological sense preserved in Invention of the Cross, Church festival (May 3) celebrating the reputed finding of the Cross of the Crucifixion by Helena, mother of Constantine, in 326 C.E.