American Woodworker

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American Woodworker Magazine: March/April 1989

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From the Letter from the Editor:

A couple of weeks ago one of our editors used the expression "pushing the envelope." I thought I was pretty much up on things language wise, but that one had me stumped. I didn't have the slightest idea what it meant. The fellow who used the phrase filled me in. When test pilots push a plane's performance to its absolute limits, they call it "pushing the envelope." The "envelope" being the speed, altitude, or maneuverability limits imposed by the plane's design. The editor in question (a pilot, I should add) thought the phrase filled a gap in the language and used it in a non-aeronautical context. That's how language grows and evolves.

 

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