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Pushing the envelope

Posted by Word Camel on October 30, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Moving envelope posted by GPP on October 30, 2003

: : What is implied by the expression a "moving envelope"? In a discussion group (of which I am a member) somebody recently wrote:

: : ". . . there are obviously tons of people doing a good job of teaching. Look at the moving envelope of research in about any discipline."

: : Another member of the group commented on this by saying:

: : "The prose of this offering (tons of people, the moving envelope of research) doesn't inspire much confidence."

: : Perhaps people are not best measured in tons, but at least this expression is clear. "Moving envelope" on the other hand - I can't even make a guess as to what it may mean.

: : Best
: : Anders

: There is no such expression; what the poster meant was the expanding envelope, boundaries, parameters, etc, of research. The poor choices in wording was what the response was complaining about.

The expression "pushing the envelope" is very common right now in the US, at least in New York. It does mean pushing the boundries. Perhaps the poster substituted "move" for "push". Unfortunately I don't know the origin of the term.