General English

  • noun a metal tool used for making rough surfaces smooth
  • noun a set of records or information about something or someone
  • noun a container similar to an envelope, used for keeping documents in
  • noun a set of information held in a computer
  • noun a line of people
  • verb to put papers away in a file
  • verb to walk in a line


  • verb to make an official request


  • noun a cardboard holder for documents, which can fit in the drawer of a filing cabinet

Cars & Driving

  • noun a flat or rounded tool with a rough surface of hardened steel for removing metal with the aim of smoothing or shaping it


  • noun a section of data on a computer, e.g. payroll, address list or customer accounts, in the form of individual records which may contain data, characters, digits or graphics
  • verb to put documents in order so that they can be found easily


  • A hand-held steel tool with teeth or raised oblique ridges, used for scraping, redressing, or smoothing metal or wood.


  • A collection of information which is stored as a unit. Files may be retrieved, modified, stored, deleted, or transferred. Each type of file requires the appropriate software for the proper handling of its contents. There are many file types, including data files, program files, system files, and multimedia files. Also called computer file.

Information & Library Science

  • noun a collection of information about a particular person or thing
  • noun a set of stored, related data with its own name


  • noun documents kept for reference, either on paper or as data on a computer
  • verb to send a document to court

Media Studies

  • verb to send in a story to a newspaper’s offices from abroad


  • noun a tactical formation where men or vehicles move one behind the other


  • verb to present something officially so it can be recorded


  • verb to send in copy for a newspaper article

Origin & History of “file”

The file for smoothing and rubbing (OE) and the file for storing things in (16th c.) are quite different words. The former comes from a prehistoric Germanic *fikhalā (source also of German feile and Dutch vijl), which goes back ultimately to Indo-European *pik-, *peik-, denoting ‘cut’. The latter, on the other hand, comes from Old French fil, a descendant of Latin filum ‘thread’, which was applied to a piece of string or wire suspended from two points and used for hanging documents and records on for easy reference. As methods of document storage and retrieval became more sophisticated, the word file followed them. The later file ‘(military) column’, first recorded at the end of the 16th century, probably represents a reborrowing from French, but it is ultimately the same word.

Fillet (14th c.) originated as a diminutive form of Latin filum.