Envelop or Envelope – What’s the Difference?

Homophones are words that sound similar but mean different things. But what are words that are spelled similarly, but mean different things? These words are called homographs, and English has many of them.

Envelop and envelope are not true homographs, since they can be distinguished by envelop’s lack of a final E. They are quite close, though, and even though their spellings are nearly identical, they have different meanings. They are even different parts of speech.

What is the Difference Between Envelop and Envelope?

In this post, I will compare envelop vs. envelope. I will use each of these words in at least one example sentence, so that you can see them in context.

Plus, I will show you a memory tool that you can use to help you decide whether envelop or envelope is the word you need.

When to Use Envelope

envelop versus envelopeWhat does envelope mean? Envelope is a noun. It can be used in a variety of contexts, but most of the time, it means a folded paper covering for letters and other documents.

Most documents sent through the mail are sealed in an envelope for safe travel. Envelopes can also be used to keep documents private in offices and other professional environments.

Here are a few examples of envelope in a sentence,

  • If you are turning eleven soon and you receive an envelope addressed to you from Hogwarts, open it immediately!
  • The spy got up from his seat on the train and walked away, leaving a blank envelope taped to the bottom of his seat.
  • Special envelopes designed to hold mail-in ballots for the Oct. 2 runoff presidential election are rimmed with a glue that should seal them tight. –The Wall Street Journal

The word envelope is only ever used as a noun. When spoken out loud, the third syllable is stressed, just like the word antelope.

When to Use Envelop

Definition of envelope definition and definition of envelop definitionWhat does envelop mean? The word envelop is a verb. It means to wrap something in a covering or to cover something completely.

Fog might envelop a secluded moor, for instance, or darkness might envelop the forest on a starless night.

The sentences below give further examples,

  • After mixing the batter, gently stir in the chocolate chips to envelop them with dough.
  • Silence will usually envelop a theater when the house lights go down.
  • “Darkness, the ninth plague, continues to envelop us,” said Yona Shem-Tov, a Jewish communal leader in New York City, comparing darkness to modern misperceptions that obscure our view of people different from us. –The New York Times

This is where it gets confusing. What if you need to conjugate envelop into the past tense?

As you might have guessed, envelop becomes enveloped in the simple past tense, adding even more uncertainty to an already confusing situation.

Here are a few other ways to conjugate envelop,

  • I/we envelop (first person singular and plural present)
  • You envelop (second person singular and plural present)
  • He/She/It envelops (third person singular present)
  • They envelop (third person plural present)
  • Enveloping (present participle)

When spoken out loud, the second syllable of envelop is stressed, just like the word indebted. Envelop rhymes with the word develop.

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define envelope and define envelop

These words have different functions within the sentence, despite their similar spellings.

  • Envelop is a verb.
  • Envelope is a noun.

If, like most of us, you have trouble remembering envelope vs. envelop, remember that envelop rhymes with develop, another verb that does not end in E and has a stressed second syllable.

Summary

Is it envelope or envelop? Even though they are spelled similarly, these words are never interchangeable.

  • Envelope is a noun for a folded paper cover for documents.
  • Envelop is a verb that means to cover completely.