AskDefine | Define envelopment

Dictionary Definition

envelopment n : the act of enclosing something inside something else [syn: enclosure, enclosing, inclosure]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The act of enveloping
  2. An offensive action in which an attacking force moves over or around the enemy and attacks from the rear; see also pincer movement
  3. An action to seize the opponent's blade in one line and lead it (without losing contact) through a full circle to end in the same line

Extensive Definition

An envelope is a packaging product, usually made of flat, planar material such as paper or cardboard, and designed to contain a flat object, which in a postal-service context is usually a letter, card or bills. The traditional type is made from a sheet of paper cut to one of three shapes: the rhombus (also referred to as a lozenge or diamond), the short-arm cross, and the kite. These designs ensure that in the course of envelope manufacture when the sides of the sheet are folded about a delineated central rectangular area, a rectangular-faced, usually oblong, enclosure is formed with an arrangement of four flaps on the reverse side, which, by virtue of the shapes of sheet traditionally used, is inevitably symmetrical.
In 1876 William Irwin Martin published the Stationer's Handbook. He worked for the Samuel Raynor & Company in New York. He created the first commercial sizes of envelopes and simply numbered them from 0 through 12. It was mostly for social and business stationery purposes in those days. That's how the No. 10 envelope got its name.


When the folding sequence is such that the last flap to be closed is on a short side it is referred to in commercial envelope manufacture as a '"pocket"' - a format frequently employed in the packaging of small quantities of seeds. Although in principle the flaps can be held in place by securing the topmost flap at a single point (for example with a wax seal), generally they are pasted or gummed together at the overlaps. They are most commonly used for enclosing and sending mail (letters) through a prepaid-postage postal system.
Window envelopes have a hole cut in the front side that allows the paper within to be seen. They are generally arranged so that the sending address printed on the letter is visible, saving the sender from having to duplicate the address on the envelope itself. The window is normally covered with a transparent or translucent film to protect the letter inside, as was first designed by Americus F. Callahan in 1901 and patented the following year. In some cases, shortages of materials or the need to economize resulted in envelopes that had no film covering the window. One innovative process, invented in Europe about 1905, involved using hot oil to saturate the area of the envelope where the address would appear. The treated area became sufficiently translucent for the address to be readable. A typical use for window envelopes is courtesy reply mail.
An aerogram is related to a lettersheet, both being designed to have writing on the inside to minimize the weight. Any handmade envelope is effectively a lettersheet because prior to the folding stage it offers the opportunity for writing a message on that area of the sheet that after folding becomes the inside of the face of the envelope.
The "envelope" used to launch the Penny Post component of the British postal reforms of 1840 was a lozenge-shaped lettersheet known as a Mulready. But if desired, a separate letter could be enclosed with postage remaining one penny, provided the combined weight did not exceed half an ounce (about 13 grams). This was a legacy of the previous system of calculating postage, which partly depended on the number of sheets of paper used.
During the U.S. Civil War those in the CSA occasionally used envelopes made from wallpaper, due to financial hardship.
A "return envelope" is a pre-addressed, smaller envelope included as the contents of a larger envelope and can be used for courtesy reply mail, metered reply mail, or freepost (business reply mail). Some envelopes are designed to be reused as the return envelope, saving the expense of including a return envelope in the contents of the original envelope. The direct mail industry makes extensive use of return envelopes as a response mechanism.
Up until 1840 all envelopes were handmade, each being individually cut to the appropriate shape out of an individual rectangular sheet. In that year George Wilson in the U.K. patented the method of tessellating (tiling) a number of envelope patterns across and down a large sheet, thereby reducing the overall amount of waste produced per envelope when they were cut out. In 1845 Edwin Hill (U.K.) and Warren de la Rue obtained a patent for a steam-driven machine that not only cut out the envelope shapes but creased and folded them as well. (Mechanised gumming had yet to be devised.) The convenience of the sheets ready cut to shape popularized the use of machine-made envelopes, and the economic significance of the factories that had produced handmade envelopes gradually diminished.
As envelopes are made of paper, they are intrinsically amenable to embellishment with additional graphics and text over and above the necessary postal markings. This is a feature that the direct mail industry has long taken advantage of -- and more recently the Mail Art movement. Custom printed envelopes has also become an increasingly popular marketing method for small business.
Most of the over 400 billion envelopes of all sizes made worldwide are machine-made. Some will be made by hand. These include some of the eastern poorer countries.

Post office requirements

Post offices prefer envelopes to be rectangular rather than square, as this reduces the amount of sorting that is needed to line up all the envelopes with the addresses reading the same way.
In some countries using postcodes, common envelopes are preprinted with lines and boxes that help write those postcodes in a consistent way in a consistent position.
Things other than envelopes have been also used, such as Ziploc bags.
In Australia, post office-preferred envelopes have four boxes printed in orange ink at the bottom right-hand corner where handwritten postcodes are meant to be written. Character recognition software is used to read the postcode number.
Envelopes in the Soviet Union were printed with something like the common 7 segment LCD, to assist the user to write the 6-character postcode directly in machine-readable format.

External links


envelopment in Arabic: ظرف
envelopment in German: Briefumschlag
envelopment in Spanish: Sobre
envelopment in French: Enveloppe (papeterie)
envelopment in Italian: Busta
envelopment in Hebrew: מעטפה
envelopment in Dutch: Envelop
envelopment in Japanese: 封筒
envelopment in Polish: Koperta (opakowanie)
envelopment in Portuguese: Envelope (papel)
envelopment in Russian: Конверт
envelopment in Simple English: Envelope
envelopment in Finnish: Kirjekuori
envelopment in Swedish: Kuvert
envelopment in Thai: ซองจดหมาย
envelopment in Chinese: 信封

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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