envelope

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back-of-the-envelope

Describing something, usually a calculation, that is approximated in a quick, informal, and rough manner, as might be sketched out on a scrap of paper (such as the back of an envelope). When it came time to pay the bill, we had to do some back-of-the-envelope calculations to figure out who owed how much. These are just some back-of-the-envelope figures, but it looks like we should have enough money to pay for the renovation.

back-of-the-envelope calculation

A calculation or mathematical formulation that is approximated in a quick, informal, and rough manner, as might be sketched out on a scrap of paper (such as the back of an envelope). When it came time to pay the bill, we had to do some back-of-the-envelope calculations to figure out who owed how much.

envelop (oneself, someone, or something) in (something)

To wrap oneself, someone, or something in something. As soon as I got in from the cold, I enveloped myself in a blanket and sat in front of the fire. The snowstorm enveloped our area even faster than predicted with white-out conditions.

on the back of an envelope

Calculated, prepared, or drafted in an overly quick, informal, or rough manner, as might be scribbled on a scrap of paper (such as the back of an envelope). It seems clear that they devised this legislation on the back of an envelope. Now, don't come up with these figures on the back of an envelope—I want you to be thorough and double check each sum and calculation.

push the envelope

To expand on, exceed, or test the limits of the established norm or standard. The company is renowned for pushing the envelope whenever they develop a new piece of technology. If you want to make a name for yourself in the art world, then you can't be afraid of pushing the envelope. It's a natural stage for most teenagers to push the envelope of their parents' rules.

the opening of an envelope

Any event, celebration, or ceremony, no matter how trivial or unremarkable, that one attends purely for the sake of visibility. Often said in relation to celebrities or media personalities who make a point of attending anything that will give them more public exposure. In a bid to cultivate a media buzz around herself, the Internet sensation has been to the openings of films, book launches, and celebrity galas. With the way she carries on, she'd even go to the opening of an envelope!

push the envelope

Fig. to expand the definition, categorization, dimensions, or perimeters of something. The engineers wanted to completely redesign the product, but couldn't push the envelope because of a very restricted budget.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

push the envelope

Exceed the limits of what is normally done, be innovative, as in They are pushing the envelope in using only new fabrics for winter clothing. This idiom comes from aviation, the envelope alluding to the technical limits of a plane's performance, which, on a graph, appear as a rising slope as limits of speed and stress are approached and falls off when the capacity is exceeded and the pilot loses control; safety lies within these limits, or envelope, and exceeding them exposes pilot and plane to risk. [Slang; late 1960s]

on the back of an envelope

If a piece of work was written or planned on the back of an envelope, it was prepared too quickly, with little thought or care. These proposals were sketched out on the back of an envelope. The screenplay sounds as if it's been written on the back of an envelope. Note: You can also talk about a back-of-an-envelope calculation or account to talk about something that is not accurate. According to his back-of-an-envelope calculation, a solar square of mirrors of this size would provide enough energy to supply the whole state.

push the envelope

If you push the envelope, you do something to a greater degree or in a more extreme way than it has been done before. We have to keep pushing the envelope, trying new technologies and developing better methods. There's a valuable place for fashion and design that pushes the envelope a bit. Note: Rather than referring to stationery, the sense of envelope here is probably the one used to refer to the shape of a wave in electronics or a curve in mathematics. Pushing or stretching the envelope suggests changing the properties of the wave or curve.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

push the envelope (or the edge of the envelope)

approach or extend the limits of what is possible. informal
This expression was originally aviation slang and related to graphs of aerodynamic performance on which the envelope is the boundary line representing an aircraft's capabilities.
1993 Albuquerque These are extremely witty and clever stories that consistently push the envelope of TV comedy.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

push the ˈenvelope

do something in an extreme way in order to find out to what degree something is possible: Advertisements seem to be pushing the envelope of taste every day.People these days like to push the envelope with extreme sports. ▶ ˈenvelope-pushing noun, adj.: envelope-pushing technologyThis expression comes from the aeroplane industry. A plane’s envelope was the limit of its performance. Test pilots would need to push (the edge of) the envelope to see what the plane could and could not do.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

push the envelope

To exceed or try to exceed the existing limits of a discipline or activity.

push the envelope

Go to extremes, go beyond accepted limits. This term comes from flight testing in the 1960s, where envelope signifies the limits of safe performance, and pushing it means to fly an aircraft faster or higher or dive more steeply than had ever been attempted in order to see what it could do. By the 1980s the expression was used figuratively, and so widely that it has become a cliché. Opera singer Renée Fleming used it in The Inner Voice (2004): “You want to go out there, push the envelope, and do something you’ve never done before.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
References in periodicals archive ?
However, dense fog that had enveloped Indira Gandhi International Airport disrupted the schedule of over 40 flights, including diversions of eight to other cities.
They are effective in eliminating vegetative bacteria and enveloped viruses.
For the real connoisseur, nine of London Tea's most popular flavoured teas and tisanes are presented in an exquisite gifting tin, making a fabulous gift of 72 enveloped tea bags
It's cool though, it can sort of fade into the background and then whenever you do something simple like get up and go to the bathroom it makes things seem really drastic and poetic: He was enveloped/ He was enveloped once more into the arena of his own desire.
In the movie, once the Blob was released, it methodically grew from within itself and slowly but surely enveloped, smothered and killed everything and everyone it touched.
It is a question with deep significance in an age of fast-moving electronic journalism where reporters, officials, and others in the glare of the studio and camera lights are often enveloped in a frenetic rush to judgment.
Dark Polaris snowmobiles stand dormant in a row, their cinematic image dissolving slowly into crags of glacial ice, so that shimmering silver logos are superimposed, for a moment, on a sublime landscape--as if all of nature's territories were somehow tamed, enveloped, swallowed whole by the crystalline lettering.
But those tragic deaths merely foreshadowed the hideous events of April 19th: The prolonged gassing of the Davidians' church complex by the FBI; the ensuing fire that enveloped the complex; and the horrifying spectacle--captured on forward-looking infrared tape--of federal paramilitaries directing automatic weapons fire into the burning complex, cutting off avenues of possible retreat.
The United States as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC) has patented a method for inactivating a virion of an enveloped RNA virus comprising contacting the virion with an eosinophil-derived ribonuclease, such as eosinophil-derived neurotoxin (EDN) or eosinophil cationic protein (ECP).
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