push the envelope


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

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.
See also: envelope, push

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.
See also: envelope, push

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]
See also: envelope, push

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.
See also: envelope, push

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.
See also: envelope, push

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.
See also: envelope, push

push the envelope

To exceed or try to exceed the existing limits of a discipline or activity.
See also: envelope, push

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.”
See also: envelope, push
References in periodicals archive ?
In the spring of 1992, I had an opportunity to push the envelope, in spite of my MS and the advice of almost everyone I knew.
The Internal Revenue Code is already replete with provisions aimed at forcing disclosures of questionable positions, curtailing improper "tax shelters," and punishing taxpayers who unduly "push the envelope" in completing their tax returns through explicit penalties (in section 6662) or enhanced interest rates (in section 6621(c)).
"If those guys are still around scoring runs, great, but by that stage they will be 39-40, it's pushing it a bit and you don't want to push the envelope too far in an Ashes series.
The architect continues to push the envelope, trying to incorporate as much public space into the city as he can manage.
The team was told to push the envelope and a competition was generated between Volvo's design studios in California and Sweden.
"We continue to push the envelope in anticipation of developing the next-generation catalyst material that will assist in the future widespread commercialization of fuel cells."
In his leisure time Stephen Sondheim loves to play games and solve puzzles, and as a composer he has revolutionized Broadway theater by giving himself challenges that push the envelope of standard musical theater form.
As the clear leader in the Process Integration and Design Optimization market, Engineous continues to push the envelope through improvements in its core technology.
If managers are advised to "push the envelope," to "think outside the box," reporters and editors, I learned recently, might well be advised to question the very shape, or even the existence, of the envelope or the box.
Designers continue to push the envelope in terms of shade fabrics and trims, often marrying them with contrasting bases for a decidedly fresh look.
This contributes to the sense of safety the cast members profess to feel when working with him and, in turn, allows them to push the envelope a bit and go into the darker corners of their character's psyche when called upon to do so.
"We're continuing to try to push the envelope every way we can," says Sawyer.
They were always just daring or whimsical enough to push the envelope a little, but the market told us to continue the series and we had great fun doing them."