from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A container, such as a cabinet or folder, for keeping papers in order.
  • n. A collection of papers or published materials kept or arranged in convenient order.
  • n. Computer Science A collection of related data or program records stored as a unit with a single name.
  • n. A line of persons, animals, or things positioned one behind the other.
  • n. A line of troops or military vehicles so positioned.
  • n. Games Any of the rows of squares that run forward and backward between players on a playing board in chess or checkers.
  • n. Archaic A list or roll.
  • transitive v. To put or keep (papers, for example) in useful order for storage or reference.
  • transitive v. To enter (a legal document) on public official record.
  • transitive v. To send or submit (copy) to a newspaper.
  • transitive v. To carry out the first stage of (a lawsuit, for example): filed charges against my associate.
  • intransitive v. To march or walk in a line.
  • intransitive v. To put items in a file.
  • intransitive v. To make application; apply: filed for a job with the state; file for a divorce.
  • intransitive v. To enter one's name in a political contest: filed for Congress.
  • idiom on file In or as if in a file for easy reference: We will keep your resumé on file.
  • n. Any of several hardened steel tools with cutting ridges for forming, smoothing, or reducing especially metallic surfaces.
  • n. A nail file.
  • n. Chiefly British A crafty or artful person.
  • transitive v. To smooth, reduce, or remove with or as if with a file.
  • transitive v. Archaic To sully or defile.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A collection of papers collated and archived together.
  • n. An aggregation of data on a storage device, identified by a name.
  • v. To commit official papers to some office
  • v. To place in an archive in a logical place and order
  • v. To store a file (aggregation of data) on a storage medium such as a disc or another computer.
  • v. To shape (an object) by cutting with a file (cutting tool).
  • v. To cut with a file (cutting tool).
  • v. To make a formal request for the benefit of an official status.
  • n. A column of people one behind another, whether "single file" or in a large group with many files side by side.
  • n. one of the eight vertical lines of squares on a chessboard (i.e., those which run from number to number). The analog horizontal lines are the ranks.
  • v. To move in a file.
  • n. A hand tool consisting of a handle to which a block of coarse metal is attached, and used for removing sharp edges or for cutting, especially through metal
  • n. A man, guy, fellow; especially one known for being cunning or resourceful.
  • v. to smooth, grind, or cut with a file
  • v. to defile
  • v. to corrupt

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An orderly succession; a line; a row.
  • n.
  • n. A row of soldiers ranged one behind another; -- in contradistinction to rank, which designates a row of soldiers standing abreast; a number consisting the depth of a body of troops, which, in the ordinary modern formation, consists of two men, the battalion standing two deep, or in two ranks.
  • n. An orderly collection of papers, arranged in sequence or classified for preservation and reference; as, files of letters or of newspapers; this mail brings English files to the 15th instant.
  • n. The line, wire, or other contrivance, by which papers are put and kept in order.
  • n. A roll or list.
  • n. Course of thought; thread of narration.
  • n. a collection of data on a digital recording medium treated as a unit for the purpose of recording, reading, storage, or indexing; -- such a file is typically accessible by computer programs by the use of a file name. The data may be of any type codable digitally, such as simple ASCII-coded text, complex binary-coded data, or an executable program, or may be itself a collection of other files.
  • n. A steel instrument, having cutting ridges or teeth, made by indentation with a chisel, used for abrading or smoothing other substances, as metals, wood, etc.
  • n. Anything employed to smooth, polish, or rasp, literally or figuratively.
  • n. A shrewd or artful person.
  • intransitive v. To march in a file or line, as soldiers, not abreast, but one after another; -- generally with off.
  • transitive v. To set in order; to arrange, or lay away, esp. as papers in a methodical manner for preservation and reverence; to place on file; to insert in its proper place in an arranged body of papers.
  • transitive v. To bring before a court or legislative body by presenting proper papers in a regular way.
  • transitive v. To put upon the files or among the records of a court; to note on (a paper) the fact date of its reception in court.
  • transitive v. To rub, smooth, or cut away, with a file; to sharpen with a file.
  • transitive v. To smooth or polish as with a file.
  • transitive v. To make foul; to defile.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rub or cut with a file, or as if with a file; render smooth, sharp, even, etc., by rubbing with a file; remove with a file: as, to file a saw; to file off a tooth.
  • Figuratively, to smooth; polish; correct; improve.
  • To defile; pollute; contaminate; degrade.
  • To place or fasten on a file; fasten, as papers, on a line or wire, for preservation; hence, to arrange in order, or insert in a bundle, as papers; arrange in a given order; classify.
  • Specifically To place in due manner, as a document, among the records of a court or a public office.
  • To receive, or receive and indorse, as a document so placed.
  • To march in a file or line, as soldiers, not abreast, but one after another.
  • Vile.
  • n. A wretch; a villain: a vague term of abuse.
  • n. A pickpocket; a thief.
  • n. [See etym.] A hard, cunning person; a shrewd person; a deep or artful man: as, a sly old file.
  • n. A metal (usually steel) tool, having a rectangular, triangular, round, or irregular section, and either tapering or of uniform width and thickness, covered on one or more of its surfaces with teeth or transverse or oblique ridges, used for abrading, reducing, or smoothing metal, ivory, wood, or other resistant materials. See phrases below.
  • n. Figuratively, any means employed to refine or polish something, as literary style.
  • n. In entomology, a surface covered with fine parallel ridges, on which another surface can be rubbed, producing the sound called stridulation. These organs are found on various parts of the body, as the wings, thorax, and abdomen.
  • n. The rough spines of a sea-urchin, as a cidarid.
  • n. A thread, string, or line; particularly, a line or wire on which papers are strung in due order for preservation and reference.
  • n. The whole number of papers thus arranged; hence, a collection of papers arranged according to date or subject for the sake of ready reference; also, a bundle of papers tied together with the title of each indorsed: as, a file of newspapers; a file of writs.
  • n. A roll, list, or catalogue.
  • n. A docket; a calendar.
  • n. A row of persons or things arranged one behind another; military, a row of soldiers forming a line from front to rear; the number of men constituting the depth of a battalion or squadron.
  • n. Regular succession of thought or narration; uniform tenor; thread of discourse.
  • n. One of the lines of squares on a chess-board running directly from player to player: opposed to rank. See chess.
  • n. Same as rank and file. See phrase below.
  • n. In some parts of the United States, a cloth used in cleaning or wiping a floor. Also file-cloth.
  • n. In heraldry, same as label.
  • n. Hence— The general body of any party or society, as distinguished from the leaders.
  • n. An individual soldier.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a steel hand tool with small sharp teeth on some or all of its surfaces; used for smoothing wood or metal
  • v. record in a public office or in a court of law
  • n. a line of persons or things ranged one behind the other
  • v. proceed in line
  • v. place in a container for keeping records
  • v. smooth with a file
  • n. a set of related records (either written or electronic) kept together
  • v. file a formal charge against
  • n. office furniture consisting of a container for keeping papers in order


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

From Middle English filen, to put documents on file, from Old French filer, to spin thread, to put documents on a thread, from Late Latin fīlāre, to spin, draw out in a long line, from Latin fīlum, thread.
Middle English, from Old English fīl.
Middle English filen, from Old English fȳlan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French fil ("thread"), Latin filum ("thread").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French file, from filer, “to spin out”, “arrange one behind another”, Latin fīlāre, from filum, “thread”.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English feol. Cognate with Dutch vijl, German Feile, West Frisian file.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English filen ("to defile"), from Old English fȳlan ("to defile, make foul"), from fūl ("foul"). More at defile.


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