Word Confusion: Envelop versus Envelope

Posted May 2, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

One teeny letter can make such a difference. It almost seems unfair. What’s worse is both words indicate an enfolding, a wrapping of something with something (or someone) else. The first can lead to a restraining order while ya just get more paper cuts with the second!

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Envelop Envelope
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Surround Sound 7” courtesy of How Stuff Works

Surround sound envelops you with an audio experience.

“Maggie Hamilton on Creativity” courtesy of Walter Mason’s blog

Creating beautiful envelopes…

Part of Grammar:
Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: envelops
Past tense or past participle: enveloped
Gerund or present participle: enveloping

Plural for the noun: envelopes
Wrap up


Surround completely

Make obscure, conceal

[Of troops] Surround an enemy force

Flat paper container with a sealable flap used to enclose a letter or document

Covering or containing structure or layer

[Astronomy] Nebulous covering of the head of a comet

  • Coma

[Electronics] Curve joining the successive peaks of a modulated wave

[Mathematics] Curve or surface tangent to each of a family of curves or surfaces

[Microbiology] Membrane forming the outer layer of certain viruses

Drop everything to envelop himself in her life.

Placing troops here and here will enable us to envelop the enemy.

The black cloak enveloped her completely.

A feeling of despair enveloped him.

Their assignment was to envelop the head of the enemy column and destroy it.

Just stick that in an envelope and mail it.

Architects should explore the external envelope of the swimming pool.

“The envelope was still disengaged from the head, but much scattered light had nearly effaced the cometic atmosphere on the side towards the sun” (Herschel, 16).

These are extremely witty and clever stories that consistently push the envelope of TV comedy.

Gondolas, suspended below an airship’s envelope, may house engines, crew, and/or a cargo hold.

The capsid and envelope are also responsible for transfer of the viral genetic material from one cell to another.

The envelope occurs when the curves get close to each other.

A.D.S.R. stands for Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release, and they are the building blocks of any synthesizer envelope.

Adjective: unenveloped
Noun: enveloper, envelopment
Verb, transitive: preenvelop
History of the Word:
Late Middle English (formerly also known as invelop(e)) from the Old French envoluper, which is from en- (in) + a second element (also found in develop) which is of unknown origin. Mid-16th century in the sense of wrapper, enveloping layer is from the French enveloppe, which is from envelopper meaning envelop. The sense of covering of a letter dates from the early 18th century.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

About Origami” by Ana at Mas Origami, via Pinterest.