envelop vs. envelope

What is the difference between envelop and envelope?

Envelop is a verb meaning “to cover, wrap up, fold over, or surround.” For example:
  • “A shroud of mist slowly enveloped the town.”
  • “The first thing I’m going to do when I get home is envelop my daughter in my arms.”
Envelope, on the other hand, is a noun meaning “a wrapping or covering, especially that which covers and contains a letter,” as in:
  • “Please send the completed form in a plain white envelope.”
Both words are ultimately derived from the French envelopper, though envelope comes from the French back-formation enveloppe and is much more recent in English.
The silent E at the end of envelope tells us that the previous O has a “long” vowel sound (/oʊ/), while the O of envelop has a reduced vowel sound known as a schwa (/ə/). However, there is also a difference in which syllable we emphasize. For envelop, the second syllable is emphasized (/ɛnˈvɛləp/), while we emphasize the first syllable for envelope (/ˈɛnvəˌloʊp/).
Finally, while the first syllable for both words is most often the same (/ɛn-/, rhyming with when), many speakers distinguish envelope further by pronouncing the first syllable more like the French original: /ˈɑnvəˌloʊp/ (rhyming with fawn). However, this is less common and up to personal preference.
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