[ in-uh-vey-shuhn ]
/ ˌɪn əˈveɪ ʃən /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: innovation / innovations / innovational on Thesaurus.com

something new or different introduced: numerous innovations in the high school curriculum.
the act of innovating; introduction of new things or methods.
There's an ocean of difference between the way people speak English in the US vs. the UK. Are your language skills up to the task of telling the difference? Let's find out!
Question 1 of 7
True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.

Origin of innovation

First recorded in 1540–50; from Late Latin innovātiōn- (stem of innovātiō ); see origin at innovate, -ion


in·no·va·tion·al, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does innovation mean?

Innovation can refer to something new, such as an invention, or the practice of developing and introducing new things.

An innovation is often a new product, but it can also be a new way of doing something or even a new way of thinking. Innovation is most commonly associated with business and technology, but it happens in any field where people introduce change, including the arts, medicine, politics, cooking, language—even philosophy and religion.

Example: The internet changed society and is often considered the ultimate example of innovation, but it was built on the backs of many smaller, previous innovations.

Where does innovation come from?

As a word, innovation is not new—the first records of its use in English come from the mid-1500s. But it is based on a root that means “new.” It derives from the Latin verb innovāre, which means “to renew” and includes the root novus, meaning “new” (as seen in words like novel and renovate).

Innovation has always been associated with newness, but not necessarily in a good way. Innovation was sometimes used in the context of religious matters as a way of accusing someone of heresy (the act of going against accepted teachings). During the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s and 1800s, it began to be used more commonly to refer to the rapid advances in technology that were emerging. Today, it most commonly refers not just to inventions but to new ideas, business models, and other methods that are considered innovative, or representative of progress.

In the context of technology and business, innovation commonly involves improving an existing idea or product, or introducing a product to a new market. But sometimes innovation involves coming up with something entirely new that makes all other products obsolete or inferior. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone is often given as an example of an innovation that was a huge step forward. Innovation isn’t limited to products. It can be applied to services, processes, and basic methods of doing things. In the medical field, new medicines and improved artificial limbs are examples of innovation, but other innovations include new ways of making medicines and new ways of performing procedures.

Innovation exists anywhere that people innovate, or introduce change. A painter using color in a new way; a chef fusing cuisines together to make a new dish; a charity organization finding new ways to help people—these are all examples of innovation.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of innovation?

What are some synonyms for innovation?

What are some words that share a root or word element with innovation


What are some words that often get used in discussing innovation?


What are some words innovation may be commonly confused with?



How is innovation used in real life?

Innovation is commonly associated with new products and technologies, but it is used in the context of any field where change happens or progress is made.



Try using innovation!

Which of the following terms could be considered the opposite of innovation?

A. transformation
B. upheaval
C. status quo
D. change

How to use innovation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for innovation

/ (ˌɪnəˈveɪʃən) /

something newly introduced, such as a new method or device
the act of innovating

Derived forms of innovation

innovational, adjectiveinnovationist, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012