1 [fahyl]
a folder, cabinet, or other container in which papers, letters, etc., are arranged in convenient order for storage or reference.
a collection of papers, records, etc., arranged in convenient order: to make a file for a new account.
Computers. a collection of related data or program records stored on some input/output or auxiliary storage medium: This program's main purpose is to update the customer master file.
a line of persons or things arranged one behind another (distinguished from rank ).
a person in front of or behind another in a military formation.
one step on a promotion list.
one of the vertical lines of squares on a chessboard.
a list or roll.
a string or wire on which papers are strung for preservation and reference.
verb (used with object), filed, filing.
to place in a file.
to arrange (papers, records, etc.) in convenient order for storage or reference.
to arrange (copy) in the proper order for transmittal by wire.
to transmit (copy), as by wire or telephone: He filed copy from Madrid all through the war.
verb (used without object), filed, filing.
to march in a file or line, one after another, as soldiers: The parade filed past endlessly.
to make application: to file for a civil-service job.
on file, arranged in order for convenient reference; in a file: The names are on file in the office.

1425–75; late Middle English filen < Middle French filer to string documents on a thread or wire, Old French: to wind or spin thread < Late Latin fīlāre, verbal derivative of Latin fīlum thread, string

fileable, adjective
filer, noun
nonfiler, noun

10. classify, label, catalog, index, list, categorize. Unabridged


2 [fahyl]
a long, narrow tool of steel or other metal having a series of ridges or points on its surfaces for reducing or smoothing surfaces of metal, wood, etc.
a small, similar tool for trimming and cleaning fingernails; nail file.
British Slang. a cunning, shrewd, or artful person.
verb (used with object), filed, filing.
to reduce, smooth, or remove with or as if with a file.

before 900; Middle English; Old English fīl, fēol; cognate with German Feile; akin to Greek pikrós sharp

fileable, adjective
filer, noun


3 [fahyl]
verb (used with object), filed, filing. Archaic.
to defile; corrupt.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English fȳlan to befoul, defile, derivative of fūl foul


[fi-ley, fee-ley]
noun New Orleans Cookery.
a powder made from the ground leaves of the sassafras tree, used as a thickener and to impart a pungent taste to soups, gumbos, and other dishes.
Also called filé powder.

1800–10, Americanism; < Louisiana French; literally, twisted, ropy, stringy (perhaps orig. applied to dishes thickened with the powder), past participle of French filer; see file1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
file1 (faɪl)
1.  a folder, box, etc, used to keep documents or other items in order
2.  the documents, etc, kept in this way
3.  documents or information about a specific subject, person, etc: we have a file on every known thief
4.  an orderly line or row
5.  Compare rank a line of people in marching formation, one behind another
6.  any of the eight vertical rows of squares on a chessboard
7.  computing a named collection of information, in the form of text, programs, graphics, etc, held on a permanent storage device such as a magnetic disk
8.  obsolete a list or catalogue
9.  (Canadian) a group of problems or responsibilities, esp in government, associated with a particular topic: the environment file
10.  on file recorded or catalogued for reference, as in a file
11.  to place (a document, letter, etc) in a file
12.  (tr) to put on record, esp to place (a legal document) on public or official record; register
13.  (tr) to bring (a suit, esp a divorce suit) in a court of law
14.  (tr) to submit (copy) to a newspaper or news agency
15.  (intr) to march or walk in a file or files: the ants filed down the hill
[C16 (in the sense: string on which documents are hung): from Old French filer, from Medieval Latin fīlāre; see filament]

file2 (faɪl)
1.  a hand tool consisting essentially of a steel blade with small cutting teeth on some or all of its faces. It is used for shaping or smoothing metal, wood, etc
2.  rare, slang (Brit) a cunning or deceitful person
3.  (tr) to shape or smooth (a surface) with a file
[Old English fīl; related to Old Saxon fīla, Old High German fīhala file, Greek pikros bitter, sharp]

file3 (faɪl)
obsolete (tr) to pollute or defile
[Old English fӯlan; related to Middle Low German vülen; see defile1, filth, foul]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"to place (papers) in consecutive order for future reference," late 15c., from M.Fr. filer "string documents on a wire for preservation or reference," from fil "thread, string," from L. filum "thread," from PIE base *gwhis-lom (cf. Armenian jil "sinew, string, line," Lith. gysla "vein, sinew," O.C.S.
zila "vein"). The notion is of documents hung up on a line like drying laundry. Methods have become more sophisticated, but the word has stuck. The noun first attested in Eng. in the military sense, "line or row of men," 1590s, from M.Fr. filer in the sense of "spin out (thread), march in file." Related: Filed; filing. The noun meaning "arranged collection of papers" is from 1620s; computer sense is from 1954.

"metal tool," O.E. feol (Mercian fil), from P.Gmc. *finkhlo (cf. O.H.G. fila, M.Du. vile, Ger. Feile), probably from PIE *pik-/*peik- "cut" (cf. Skt. pimsati "hews out, carves," L. pingere "to paint," O.C.S. pila "file, saw," Lith. pela "file;" see paint). The verb in this
sense is from early 13c. Related: Filed; filing.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
file   (fīl)  Pronunciation Key 
A collection of related data or program records stored as a unit with a single name. Files are the basic units that a computer works with in storing and retrieving data.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Computing Dictionary

file definition

file system
An element of data storage in a file system.
The history of computing is rich in varied kinds of files and file systems, whether ornate like the Macintosh file system or deficient like many simple pre-1980s file systems that didn't have directories. However, a typical file has these characteristics:
* It is a single sequence of bytes (but consider Macintosh resource forks).
* It has a finite length, unlike, e.g., a Unix device.
* It is stored in a non-volatile storage medium (but see ramdrive).
* It exists (nominally) in a directory.
* It has a name that it can be referred to by in file operations, possibly in combination with its path.
Additionally, a file system may support other file attributes, such as permissions; timestamps for creation, last modification, and last access and revision numbers (a` la VMS).
Compare: document.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see in single file; on file; rank and file.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Computer file system search tools can only help us find what we're looking for.
It's true that, when the file was opened, this and that line of code in the computer program was executed.
At the time, her parents tried to file a claim with that government-created system.
It was a really odd place to work, a lot of famous people who were writers in name only, they'd file their stories over the phone.
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