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1 definition found
 for push the envelope
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Envelope \En"vel*ope\ (?; 277), Envelop \En*vel"op\ (?; 277), n.
     [F. enveloppe.]
     1. That which envelops, wraps up, encases, or surrounds; a
        wrapper; an inclosing cover; esp., the cover or wrapper of
        a document, as of a letter.
        [1913 Webster]
     2. (Astron.) The nebulous covering of the head or nucleus of
        a comet; -- called also coma.
        [1913 Webster]
     3. (Fort.) A work of earth, in the form of a single parapet
        or of a small rampart. It is sometimes raised in the ditch
        and sometimes beyond it. --Wilhelm.
        [1913 Webster]
     4. (Geom.) A curve or surface which is tangent to each member
        of a system of curves or surfaces, the form and position
        of the members of the system being allowed to vary
        according to some continuous law. Thus, any curve is the
        envelope of its tangents.
     4. A set of limits for the performance capabilities of some
        type of machine, originally used to refer to aircraft; --
        it is often described graphically as a two-dimensional
        graph of a function showing the maximum of one performance
        variable as a function of another. Now it is also used
        metaphorically to refer to capabilities of any system in
        general, including human organizations, esp. in the phrase
        push the envelope. It is used to refer to the maximum
        performance available at the current state of the
        technology, and therefore refers to a class of machines in
        general, not a specific machine.
     push the envelope to increase the capability of some type
        of machine or system; -- usually by technological
        [1913 Webster]

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