What's a word for someone who pushes boundaries and things forward that is positive in connotation?

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    What is the context for this? Help us help you by giving a sentence where you want this word used or a description of the situation. – Mitch Nov 25 '15 at 13:44


push the envelope: exceed the limits of what is normally done, be innovative, as in They are pushing the envelope in using only new fabrics for winter clothing.

(The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms)

By extension, I think you can use envelope pusher.

In addition, you can try:

pioneer: one who opens up new areas of thought, research, or development


pathfinder: someone who discovers and tries new ways of doing things

(Macmillan English Dictionary)



Someone who keeps introducing new ideas and things


Someone who sets everything in motion by introducing new ideas


Someone who takes it upon himself to push things forward when no one else will

And, to a lesser extent:


A mild type of rebel


Consider Transcender

Wiktionary: Transcender defines a person who transcends.

Transcend means to pass beyond limits.


I think "pushing the envelope" and "thinking outside the square [or box]" are now rather clichéd management-speak. I would usually prefer innovator, pioneer, forward thinker, ground-breaker, or perhaps avant garde, depending on the context


Consider maverick

[Cambridge dictionaries] a ​person who ​thinks and ​acts in an ​independent way, often ​behaving ​differently from the ​expected or ​usual way:




a person who makes, does, or discovers something new and makes it acceptable or popular M-W


: someone who starts a new fashion, style, etc., or helps to make it popular M-W


Besides the realm of innovation and ground-breaking aforementioned, those who have the skills and capabilities to push the boundaries of knowledge to an upper level are those few regarded as visionaries leaders. As thus, well known examples of the kind are Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

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