en·​ve·​lope | \ ˈen-və-ˌlōp How to pronounce envelope (audio) , ˈän- How to pronounce envelope (audio) \

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

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 Police found a suicide note written on the envelope of a college acceptance letter. John General, CNN, 19 Apr. 2022 Trump had argued that thousands of ballots where clerks filled in missing information on the outside envelope should be discounted, but courts rejected his argument. Scott Bauer, chicagotribune.com, 8 Apr. 2022 Bar election clerks from filling in any missing information on a voter's absentee ballot envelope. CBS News, 8 Apr. 2022 The new mail ballot requirements in Texas include listing an identification number — either a driver’s license or a Social Security number — on the ballot’s carrier envelope. Paul J. Weber And Acacia Coronado, Chron, 16 Mar. 2022 Sue Donovan, conservator for Special Collections at the University of Virginia, works on an envelope that was removed from a time capsule that was found underneath the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Dec. 22, 2021, in Richmond, Va. NBC News, 23 Dec. 2021 In a post on its website, the GSA said construction is nearing completion on the building envelope and continues to progress on the interior. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Nov. 2021 For a vote to be counted, signatures on the envelope must match the one the elections office has on file. Ryan Gillespie, orlandosentinel.com, 11 Nov. 2021 The county tracks the barcode on each ballot envelope to verify only one ballot is counted from each voter. Jen Fifield, The Arizona Republic, 2 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of envelope

circa 1714, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for envelope

Time Traveler

The first known use of envelope was circa 1714

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Dictionary Entries Near envelope



envelope stamp

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Statistics for envelope

Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Envelope.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/envelope. Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for envelope


en·​ve·​lope | \ ˈen-və-ˌlōp How to pronounce envelope (audio) , ˈän- \

Kids Definition of envelope

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


en·​ve·​lope | \ ˈen-və-ˌlōp How to pronounce envelope (audio) , ˈän- How to pronounce envelope (audio) \

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


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