file

Definitions

General English

Accounting

  • verb to make an official request

Banking

  • 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

Computing

  • 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

Construction

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

Electronics

  • 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

Law

  • 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

Military

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

Politics

  • verb to present something officially so it can be recorded

Publishing

  • 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.
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