General English

  • noun a large mass of things


  • noun a lot of things put one on top of the other



  • An early battery consisting of a series of alternated disks of dissimilar metals, usually zinc and copper, each separated by paper or cloth soaked in an electrolyte. Also called voltaic pile, or galvanic pile.
  • A deprecated term for nuclear reactor.
  • A stack, such as a carbon pile, of elements or objects utilized together.

Real Estate

  • noun a vertical wood, metal or concrete support for a building or other structure that is driven into the ground.
  • noun the surface of a carpet or of a fabric such as velvet that is formed of short, sometimes cut, loops of fibre
  • verb to use piles as a support for a building or other structure

Origin & History of “pile”

English has three words pile. The commonest, ‘heap’ (15th c.), originally meant ‘pillar’. It comes ultimately from Latin pīla ‘pillar’, source also of English pilaster, pillar, etc. this evolved in meaning to ‘pier or harbour wall made of stones’, and inspired a derived verb pīlāre ‘heap up’ (source of English compile (14th c.)). The sense ‘heap’ came to the fore in Old French pile, and passed into English.

Pile ‘post driven into the ground’ (OE) was borrowed into Old English from Latin pīlum ‘javelin’. It was originally used for a ‘throwing spear’, ‘arrow’, or ‘spike’, and its present-day use did not emerge (via ‘pointed stake or post’) until the middle English period.

Pile ‘nap on cloth, carpets, etc’ (15th c.) probably comes via Anglo-Norman pyle from Latin pilus ‘hair’ (which may be distantly related to English pillage and pluck, and lies behind English depilatory (17th c.)).