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

But some back-of-the-envelope calculations show that a Chevrolet Equinox small SUV made in Canada would cost about $5,250 more in the U.S. if General Motors doesn't eat part of it. Tom Krisher, chicagotribune.com, "Experts say auto tariffs would raise prices, cost jobs," 18 June 2018 At my urging, Dodek asked Fidelity for a photocopy of the back of the envelope. Sean P. Murphy, BostonGlobe.com, "For lack of a legible postmark, retirement fund takes a hit," 5 June 2018 Again and again, Dezra let her fingers run through the pile of envelopes in the box containing checks and cash ranging from $5 to $1,000, some anonymous, some with letters to the family. Orlando Sentinel, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Grandma overwhelmed by $41K in donations from readers touched by family in crisis after murder," 9 Mar. 2018 Every few months in 1968, Flynt stuffed photos of his dancers into an envelope and mailed them to his brother, Jimmy, in Vietnam. Cincinnati Enquirer, "Read more from this Project," 13 July 2018 Those lucky enough to receive one of the royal wedding thank you cards will have opened the envelope featuring Kensington Palace's crest, as well as a photo of the pair on their wedding day. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Just Sent out the Sweetest Wedding Thank You Cards," 8 July 2018 Sarah Blaskey The stack included an envelope holding a financial disclosure form sent in May of 2017 by the Florida Commission on Ethics. Sarah Blaskey And David Smiley, miamiherald, "Where does she live? A Miami lawmaker's bizarre attempt to reside in her district," 3 July 2018 The radio station shared a video of the morning show hosts handing Billy an envelope containing the meet and greet passes. Southern Living, "This Reba McEntire Fan’s Reaction to Winning Meet and Greet Passes Will Warm Your Heart, Guaranteed," 27 June 2018 Each spring, when college acceptances and rejections arrive in the mail, a simple maxim applies: The thicker the envelope, the better the news. Alex Bhattacharji, Town & Country, "Can USC Survive Scandal and Shed Its Spoiled-Kid Reputation Once and For All?," 10 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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Phrases Related to envelope

push the envelope

return envelope

Statistics for envelope

Last Updated

12 Sep 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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