PUSH THE LIMITS?

This is a discussion thread · 4 replies
Keuk-Tae Kim:
Hello.
These days, I'm studying about stress and how to handle it.

I happened to run into the phrase 'push the limits'.

I tried to find the phrase in the dictionary but couldn't.

What does it mean?
Thanks.
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John Holmes :
[nq:1]Hello. These days, I'm studying about stress and how to handle it. I happened to run into the phrase 'push the limits'. I tried to find the phrase in the dictionary but couldn't. What does it mean?[/nq]
In that context it would mean trying to do a bit more than you could really manage. For example, a sportsman trying to break a record would be 'pushing the limits'. A student might 'push the limits' in studying all night for an exam, and then be too tired to think clearly during the exam.

Regards
John
for mail: my initials plus those of alt.usage.english at tpg dot com dot au
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Steve Hayes:
[nq:1]Hello. These days, I'm studying about stress and how to handle it. I happened to run into the phrase 'push the limits'. I tried to find the phrase in the dictionary but couldn't. What does it mean?[/nq]
Putting your shoulder to the cell door and giving a mighty shove.

Grabbing the electric fence and wiggling it back and forth to break the standards.
Taking a running jump at the razor wire.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
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John Ings:
[nq:1]Hello. These days, I'm studying about stress and how to handle it. I happened to run into the phrase 'push the limits'. I tried to find the phrase in the dictionary but couldn't. What does it mean?[/nq]
As others have explained, it means to attempt to go a little further than is usually considered advisable. A similar phrase with the same meaning is "pushing the envelope".
For instance an aeroplane always has limitations specified by the engineers who designed it. The highest speed it's safe to fly; the steepest angle it is safe to attempt to climb at full power; the slowest speed it's safe to fly without stalling and so on. These limits are termed the "flight envelope" and the pilot who gets too close to these limits or who goes beyond them is "pushing the limits" or "exceeding the envelope".
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Christopher Green:
[nq:1]Hello. These days, I'm studying about stress and how to handle it. I happened to run into the phrase 'push the limits'. I tried to find the phrase in the dictionary but couldn't. What does it mean? Thanks.[/nq]
I think it;s related to "push the envelope", which is used by airplane pilots. The various parameters of an aircraft in flight (air speed, angle of attack, etc.) have ranges in which they are known to be safe; if you imagine these plotted on an N-dimensional graph, they form a figure called the "envelope". To "push the envelope" is to fly the aircraft at or beyond these safe limits; you may discover by doing so that it is capable of performance beyond what its designers and previous pilots believed or you may make the last discovery you ever make.
So "pushing the envelope" or "pushing the limits" means to test the boundaries of what is safe or acceptable in a given situation, by exceeding those boundaries.

Chris Green
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