Word of the Day: file

Word of the Day
June 30, 2016
file (noun, verb)
/faɪl/  sound icon
A stack of files
In computing, a file is a collection of information, such as a word processing document or spreadsheet, stored under a particular name. A file is also a collection of papers, usually stored in a folder, and it is also the folder or a case where documents are kept for future reference. A file is also a line of things or people, one behind the other. As a verb, file means 'to put in a cabinet or folder' or 'to arrange papers or other records in a certain order for future reference.' When talking about a legal process, file means 'to start' or 'to submit' something, such as a formal request, application, or complaint. In journalism, it means 'to send a news story to a newspaper or agency.' Lastly, to file means 'to march in a line.'


Example sentences
When working on something important, you should save your file regularly, so you won't lose your work if your computer crashes.
George put the documents in the file.
There was a file of people waiting outside the shop on the morning of the sale.
Isobel asked her assistant to file the notes from the meeting.
Could you file these invoices in alphabetical order, please?
Henry filed for divorce after forty years of marriage.
The reporter always files her weekly column on time.
The teacher watched as the students filed into the classroom.


Words often used with file
file a complaint, file a report: to submit a formal complaint or report on something. Example: "Neil asked his lawyers to file a complaint against his employers for negligence."
Multi-word forms
on file: in a file or recorded in some way for future reference. Example: "I'm sorry, we don't have any vacancies at the moment, but we will keep your details on file so that we can contact you if a job becomes available."
Additional information
A file is also a metal tool used for smoothing wooden or metal surfaces and, by extension, a nail file is a tool used to smooth and shape your nails. As a verb, it means 'to smooth using a file.'
Did you know?
File is also an archaic slang word meaning 'to pick somebody's pocket,' also sometimes used in the expression file a cly, meaning the same thing. You won't hear these expressions now, but you might read them in some very old books.
Other forms
fileable (adjective), filer (noun)
The verb file, meaning 'to organize documents or information,' along with the noun of the same meaning, come from the Middle French word filer, which meant 'to string documents on a thread or wire to keep them together,' and was first used in English in the mid-15th century. This word actually comes from the Latin words fīlāre (to string or thread something together) and filum (thread or filament). The other meaning, 'an instrument to smooth a surface,' comes from a different word entirely! It has been used since before the year 900, and comes from the Old English fīl or fēol, meaning 'a cutting tool.' It is related to the Greek word pikrós, which means 'sharp.'
File in other languages
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