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"Pushing the envelope"

The posting lamenting the poisoning of the well of English mentioned the common American expression "pushing the envelope", meaning to get things done. The Oxford English Dictionary does not give it. I think I found the origin in listening to Pat Buchanan speak of his book, The Death of the West. He spoke of "pushing envelopes full of dollar bills into the pockets of politicians". Since money plays a much larger role in American politics than in other Western democracies, it is natural that it should be American, but not British slang.

Ronald Hilton - 1/31/02