en·​ve·​lope | \ˈen-və-ˌlōp, ˈän- \

Definition of envelope 

1 : a flat usually paper container (as for a letter)

2 : something that envelops : wrapper the envelope of air around the earth

3a : the outer covering of an aerostat

b : the bag containing the gas in a balloon or airship

4a : a natural enclosing covering (such as a membrane, shell, or integument)

b : a lipoprotein unit membrane that forms the outer layer of some virions

5a : a curve tangent to each of a family of curves

b : a surface tangent to each of a family of surfaces

6 : a set of performance limits (as of an aircraft) that may not be safely exceeded also : the set of operating parameters that exists within these limits

7 : a conventionally accepted limit new computers that push the envelope

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How do you pronounce envelope?: Usage Guide

The \ˈen-\ and \ˈän-\ pronunciations are used with about equal frequency, and both are fully acceptable, though the \ˈän-\ version is sometimes decried as "pseudo-French." Actually \ˈän-\ is exactly what one would expect to hear when a French word like entrepreneur is becoming anglicized. Envelope, however, has been in English for nearly 300 years, plenty of time for it to become completely anglicized and for both of its pronunciations to win respectability.

Examples of envelope in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The voter filled out her ballot while the young woman waited; the woman then took the ballot, but never asked the voter to sign it and did not put it in a sealed envelope. Dylan Scott, Vox, "There’s something very weird going on with this North Carolina House election," 30 Nov. 2018 Many afternoons were spent stuffing envelopes and talking strategy in Kat’s apartment. Nika Lomazzo, Teen Vogue, "What It's Like to Help Your Best Friend Win an Election," 12 Nov. 2018 Diana paired her piece with a soft black jacket, pumps, and a small envelope clutch. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle Channeled Princess Diana with Her Leather Skirt," 4 Oct. 2018 Another treasured line is the series of decoupage envelope boxes and letter holders made by Scanlon Apparati in Switzerland, whose owner, Beth, found Brooks on Instagram and felt inspired to get in touch. Jo Rodgers, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Magpie Makings of Amanda Brooks’s New Cotswolds Shop," 18 July 2018 Theft 5000 block of West Madison Lakes Circle in Davie, June 15, 2:36 p.m. The victim left his 2016 Toyota Avalon unlocked and has several envelopes containing $2,500 in cash and his wallet visible. Dan White, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Davie, Cooper City area crime reports," 11 July 2018 The song reappears multiple times throughout the episode, and completely envelopes in the final scene of the premiere episode. refinery29.com, "Sharp Objects," 9 July 2018 Hartley said the pink greeting-card-style envelope was postmarked June 28, the day of the shooting. Crimesider Staff, CBS News, "Virginia editor receives card apparently sent by accused Capital Gazette shooter," 6 July 2018 But last month one of the region’s more populous towns sent envelopes to residents that didn’t contain ominous notices or bills. Michaelle Bond, Philly.com, "For real?! Bucks County town sends budget-surplus checks to residents," 5 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'envelope.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of envelope

circa 1714, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for envelope

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for envelope

The first known use of envelope was circa 1714

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More Definitions for envelope



English Language Learners Definition of envelope

: an enclosing cover for a letter, card, etc.


en·​ve·​lope | \ˈen-və-ˌlōp, ˈän-\

Kids Definition of envelope

: a flat usually paper container (as for a letter)


en·​ve·​lope | \ˈen-və-ˌlōp, ˈän- \

Medical Definition of envelope 

: a natural enclosing covering (as a membrane or integument) especially : a lipoprotein unit membrane that forms the outer layer of some virions and surrounds the viral capsid These glycoprotein complexes, swept up by the budding virus as it acquires its envelope, are crucial to HIV's ability to infect new cells. — William A. Haseltine et al., Scientific American, October 1988

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More from Merriam-Webster on envelope

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with envelope

Spanish Central: Translation of envelope

Nglish: Translation of envelope for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of envelope for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about envelope

Comments on envelope

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a knickknack or trinket

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