Envelop or Envelope?

What Is 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. correct tick
  • "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. correct tick
  • "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. correct tick
envelop or envelope?

How to Pronounce "Envelop" and "Envelope"

Listen to how "envelop" and "envelope" are pronounced:

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. correct tick


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. correct tick

(2) The limits of a system's operating capability

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

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.
author logo

This page was written by Craig Shrives.