push the limits

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Allegro molto, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. Allegro molto Senior Member

    Japanese
    Hello

    Then, too, there are those who simply insist on pushing the limits — or pushing past clearly marked signs. It was just such a decision that turned fatal on July 19, when three 20-something visitors from an Assyrian church in nearby Ceres, Calif., fell into the Merced River, just above Vernal Fall, a 317-foot drop-off onto boulders below.
    (from A dangerous natural beauty, the IHT)

    Does "push the limits" mean "go over/beyond the limits"?


    Thank you

     
  2. natkretep

    natkretep Moderato con anima

    Singapore
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, it just means trying to see if you could go beyond the limits and not suffer the consequences. Sometimes, you also hear about testing the limits.
     
  3. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    You will also hear "pushing the envelope." This phrase originated with the use of "envelope" in aviation, where it refers to the combination of altitude, speed, rate of descent and so on within which an aircraft can operate. You can think of someone who is "pushing the envelope" as being inside a paper envelope and pushing it outward in some direction. Similarly, a pilot would "push the envelope" by flying faster than the aircraft is supposed to be able to, or higher, or exceeding a design specification in some other way. The phrase is now used by extension in other contexts as well.

    Even a chef could be said to "push the envelope" by combining foods in ways that have not been done before: turkey-flavored ice cream, for example. (Pushing the envelope is not always a good idea. :) )
     

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