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I've stumbled upon these 3 words. I think meaning of 招待 is:

invite (as in a formal invitation)

The other two seem rather confusing to me, though.

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This might not be very helpful, but I remember 招く by thinking of 招き猫. –  snailboat Feb 21 '13 at 13:46
    
I think of 誘う as "invite to come along", e.g. inviting to come hiking with me and a group of people, rather than inviting to an event that I am hosting. –  Earthliŋ Feb 21 '13 at 14:32

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are some slight differences, so let's let the dictionary do the explaining for us:

招待:

[名](スル)《古くは「しょうだい」》客を招いてもてなすこと。催しなどに客として招くこと。また、人にわざわざ来てもらうこと。「祝賀会に―される」「―券」

招く:

1 合図をして人を呼び寄せる。「手を振って―・く」

2 客として来るように誘う。招待する。「歓迎会に―・かれる」

3 ある目的のために、礼をつくして来てもらう。また、しかるべき地位を用意して、人に来てもらう。招聘(しょうへい)する。「作家を―・いて講演会を開く」「ゲストに―・く」「教授として―・く」

4 好ましくない事態を引き起こす。もたらす。「惨事を―・く」「誤解を―・く」

誘う:

1 一緒に行動するようにすすめる。また、連れ出す。「ボランティア活動に―・う」「ドライブに―・う」

2 そのことが原因となって、ある気持ちを引き起こさせる。促す。「涙を―・うドラマ」「いい陽気に―・われて行楽地に繰り出す」

3 好ましくない状況などに引き入れる。誘惑する。「悪の道に―・う」

So what exactly are we looking at? There are a few things to notice here:

  • 招待 means to invite someone somewhere as a guest, or to have someone come from somewhere for some special purpose. Note that this is both a noun and a verb, so it can also mean invitation.
  • 招く is very similar to the verb form of 招待, as shown in its second definition. However, it has some other meanings. snailplane mentioned in the comments that she associates 招く with 招き猫. These are little creatures that sit outside a shop and beckon guests and customers in with their waving gesture. This is also 招く, as shown in the first definition, where you beckon someone with some kind of signal. The third sense is just a polite way of saying to have someone come, but the 4th also shows 招く being used in the metaphorical sense of inviting disaster or other such misfortune, similar to how we use it in English.
  • 誘う, as also mentioned in the comments, is about getting someone to do something with you, as in the first definition. The second definition is similar to the last of 招く, about soliciting tears or being lured by good weather or whatever onto a vacation. The last is the sense of being tempted to do something that you shouldn't otherwise be doing.

I basically paraphrased the definitions in English, but that should be a clear explanation of the differences.

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You can remember the third sense of 誘う by association with 誘惑 (because it uses the same kanji). –  snailboat Feb 22 '13 at 1:04

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