Meaning of FILE in English

I. file 1 S1 W2 AC /faɪl/ BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Sense 1-3, 5: Date: 1500-1600 ; Language: French ; Origin: fil 'thread' , from Latin filum (because documents were stored on pieces of string). ]

[ Sense 4: Language: Old English ; Origin: feol ]

1 . a set of papers, records etc that contain information about a particular person or subject

file on

Mendoza read over the file on the murders.

The FBI keeps files on former White House employees.

We will keep your details on file (=store them for later use) .

police/case/medical etc file

a copy of the court file

2 . a box or piece of folded card in which you store loose papers:

She pulled a blue file from the shelf.

3 . information on a computer that you store under a particular name:

a list of all the files and folders on your hard disk

4 . a metal tool with a rough surface that you rub on something to make it smooth ⇨ ↑ nail file

5 . a line of people who are standing or walking one behind the other

file of

a file of soldiers marching in step

in file

It was dark as we set off in file.

⇨ ↑ single file , ↑ rank and file

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ verbs

▪ open a file

Click on the icon to open the file.

▪ close a file

You may need to close the file and restart the computer.

▪ save a file

Save the file under a different filename.

▪ create a file

I created a file of useful contacts.

▪ delete a file (=remove it )

I accidentally deleted the wrong file.

▪ access a file (=open or read it)

You won’t be able to access the file if another user has opened it.

▪ edit a file (=make changes to it)

I edited the file and saved it to the hard disk.

▪ copy a file

To copy a file, save it using a new filename.

▪ move a file

He was trying to move the file from one folder to another.

▪ transfer a file (=move it from one computer system to another)

You can transfer files and share your stuff with friends.

▪ download a file (=move a copy of it from the Internet or another computer to your computer)

It just takes a few seconds to download the file.

▪ upload a file (=move a copy of it from your computer to the Internet or another computer)

Restart the web browser, and then upload the file.

▪ load a file (=put a file onto a computer)

Double-click on the icon and it will load the zip file onto your computer.

▪ send somebody a file (=send it using email)

Do you want me to send you the file?

▪ attach a file (=send it with an email)

Sorry, I forgot to attach the file.

▪ compress a file (=make it smaller so that it uses less space on a computer)

The program allows you to compress files.

■ NOUN + file

▪ a computer file

Delete some of the old computer files and create some space on the hard drive.

▪ a backup file (=a copy of a file, which is made in case the original becomes lost or damaged)

You can burn your backup file to CD or DVD.

▪ a text file

The text file contains hints on how to get the best out of the program.

▪ a data file

The bigger the data file, the more time is needed to search it.

▪ a graphics file

This handy utility allows you to change graphics files from one format to another.

• • •


▪ record information about something that is written down:

your medical records


the public records office


I have to keep a record of all my spending when I’m travelling on business.

▪ file a set of written records, or information stored on a computer under a particular name:

He began reading the file on the case.


I think I may have accidentally deleted the file.

▪ accounts ( also books informal ) an exact record of the money that a company has received and spent:

Companies are required by law to publish their annual accounts.


Someone had been falsifying the accounts.


The company’s books all seemed to be in order.

▪ ledger one of the official books in which a company’s financial records are kept, which show how much it has received and spent:

The costs have been moved from one column of the ledger to another.

▪ minutes an official written record of what is said and decided at a meeting:

Both points are mentioned in the minutes of the last meeting on August 3rd.

▪ diary a book in which you regularly write down the things that have happened to you:

In his diary he wrote, ‘It s lovely having him here, we’ve had so many cosy talks.’


I’ll just check in my diary to see if I’m free.

▪ blog a web page on the Internet on which someone regularly writes about their life, opinions, or a particular subject:

I may not always agree with David, but I always read his blog.

▪ register an official list of names of people, organizations etc:

Guests must sign the hotel register.


the national register of births, deaths, and marriages


Lloyds Register of Shipping

▪ roll an official list of names, especially of people who are allowed to do something such as vote or be in a class at school:

the electoral roll (=list of people who can vote in an area)


The teacher called the roll (=read out the list of the names of the students, who then have to say if they are present) .

▪ log an official record that is kept on a ship or plane:

Mr Appleby said he complained to a senior officer, who made a note in the ship’s log.

II. file 2 S3 W3 AC BrE AmE verb

1 . [transitive] to keep papers, documents etc in a particular place so that you can find them easily:

The contracts are filed alphabetically.

file something under something

I looked to see if anything was filed under my name.

file something away

The handbooks are filed away for future reference.

2 . [transitive] to give or send an official report or news story to your employer:

The officer left the scene without filing a report.

3 . [intransitive always + adverb/preposition, transitive] law to give a document to a court or other organization so that it can be officially recorded and dealt with

file a complaint/lawsuit/petition etc (against somebody)

Mr Genoa filed a formal complaint against the department.

file for

The Morrisons have filed for divorce.

Today is the deadline for Americans to file their tax returns.

4 . [intransitive always + adverb/preposition] if people file somewhere, they walk there in a line:

We began to file out into the car park.

The mourners filed past the coffin.

5 . [intransitive always + adverb/preposition, transitive] to use a metal or wooden tool to rub something in order to make it smooth:

File down the sharp edges.

She sat filing her nails.

• • •


▪ keep to leave something in one particular place so that you can find it easily:

Where do you keep the scissors?


The keys are kept in my office.

▪ store to put things away and keep them until you need them:

Villagers have begun storing wood for the winter.

▪ save to keep something so that you can use or enjoy it in the future:

He had been saving the bottle of champagne for a special occasion.


We can save the rest of the pie for later.

▪ file to store papers or information in a particular order or a particular place:

All the contracts are filed alphabetically.

▪ collect to get and keep objects of the same type because you think they are attractive or interesting:

Kate collects old postcards.

▪ hold to keep something to be used when it is needed, especially something that many different people may need to use:

Medical records are now usually held on computers.

▪ reserve formal to keep part of something for use at a later time during a process such as cooking:

Reserve some of the chocolate so that you can use it for decorating the cake.

▪ hoard to keep large amounts of food, money etc because you think you may not be able to get them in the future – used when you do not approve of people doing this because it is not necessary or not fair to other people:

People have been hoarding food and fuel in case there is another attack.


Rationing of basic food products was introduced to prevent hoarding.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.