Envelop or Envelope?

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The Difference between "Envelop" and "Envelope"

"Envelop" and "envelope" are easy to confuse because the words look so similar and share the idea of surrounding something.
  • "Envelop" means to surround or to enclose. For example:
    • The lions tried to envelop the boar.
  • "Envelope" is a flat paper container with a sealable flap that is used to enclose a document. For example:
    • Put the letter in the envelope.
  • "Envelope" can also refer to the limits of a system's capability (e.g., top speed, highest pressure, greatest output). For example:
    • The pilot pushed the envelope of the plane's capabilities.
envelop or envelope?

More about "Envelop" and "Envelope"

The verb "to envelop" (without an "e" on the end) means "to surround" or "to enclose." It is sometimes confused with the noun "envelope," which most commonly refers to a flat rectangular paper container for a letter.


The verb "to envelop" can mean "to surround," "to enclose," "to cover up," "to conceal," or — in military circles — "to conduct a flanking manoeuvre." In the 19th century, the verb was spelled with an "e" on the end, and this likely contributes to people confusing it with "envelope." In the past tense, the "e" reappears (e.g., The German division enveloped the town.)

Example sentences with "envelop":

"The bridge was enveloped by fog."
  • Every year, an eerie mist envelops the hotel on the anniversary of his gruesome murder.


The noun "envelope" has two meanings:

(1) A flat package (usually made of paper) that is designed to hold papers (e.g., letters, cards).

For example:

A selection of envelopes
  • Most envelope glue is produced from tree sap.
(2) The limits of a system's operating capability.

For example:
  • We're pushing the documented envelope by increasing the speed.
  • In June's test flights, the speed and altitude envelope was progressively expanded from the previously flown 170 knots and 12,000 feet.
Children's Joke to Help Remind You

Q: What word starts with "e," ends in "e," but only has one letter in it?
A: Envelope.
Ready for the Test?
Here is a confirmatory test for this lesson.

This test can also be:
  • Edited (i.e., you can delete questions and play with the order of the questions).
  • Printed to create a handout.
  • Sent electronically to friends or students.

See Also

adverse or averse? affect or effect? appraise or apprise? avenge or revenge? bare or bear? complement or compliment? dependant or dependent? discreet or discrete? disinterested or uninterested? e.g. or i.e.? envy or jealousy? imply or infer? its or it's? material or materiel? poisonous or venomous? practice or practise? principal or principle? tenant or tenet? who's or whose? What are nouns? What are verbs? List of easily confused words