An envelope is something that envelops, or wraps around. It usually refers to the thing you stick a stamp on and snail mail.

In the early 1700s, envelope, the noun for "wrapper," evolved from the French enveloppe, meaning “to envelop.” Envelope is always a noun, unlike the verb envelop which means “to wrap, cloak.” Synonyms for envelope range from casing and enclosure to pouch and sheath. Virginia Woolf said, “Life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning.” She ditched hers by walking into a river with her pockets full of rocks.

Definitions of envelope
  1. noun
    a flat (usually rectangular) container for a letter, thin package, etc.
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    window envelope
    an envelope with a transparent panel that reveals the address on the enclosure
    type of:
    any object that can be used to hold things (especially a large metal boxlike object of standardized dimensions that can be loaded from one form of transport to another)
  2. noun
    any wrapper or covering
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    type of:
    wrap, wrapper, wrapping
    the covering (usually paper or cellophane) in which something is wrapped
  3. noun
    a natural covering (as by a fluid)
    “the spacecraft detected an envelope of gas around the comet”
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    type of:
    cover, covering, natural covering
    a natural object that covers or envelops
  4. noun
    the bag containing the gas in a balloon
    synonyms: gasbag
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    type of:
    a flexible container with a single opening
  5. noun
    a curve that is tangent to each of a family of curves
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    type of:
    curve, curved shape
    the trace of a point whose direction of motion changes
  6. noun
    the maximum operating capability of a system (especially an aircraft)
    “test pilots try to push the envelope
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    type of:
    operating capability, performance capability
    the capability of a technological system to perform as intended
Commonly confused words

envelop / envelope

To envelop is to surround something completely. But an envelope is a piece of paper you put your love note in and lick to seal. With enVElop, the accent is on the second syllable, while with ENvelope, the accent is on the first.

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