/ faɪl; NAmE / noun , verb
a box or folded piece of card for keeping loose papers together and in order :
a box file
A stack of files awaited me on my desk.
a collection of information stored together in a computer, under a particular name :
to access / copy / create / delete / download / save a file
Every file on the same disk must have a different name.
—see also PDF
file (on sb) a file and the information it contains, for example about a particular person or subject :
secret police files
to have / open / keep a confidential file on sb
Your application will be kept on file (= in a file, to be used later) .
Police have reopened the file (= have started collecting information again) on the missing girl.
a metal tool with a rough surface for cutting or shaping hard substances or for making them smooth
—see also nail file
a line of people or things, one behind the other :
They set off in file behind the teacher.
- (in) single file
[ vn ] file sth (away) to put and keep documents, etc. in a particular place and in a particular order so that you can find them easily; to put a document into a file :
The forms should be filed alphabetically.
I filed the letters away in a drawer.
Please file it in my 'Research' file.
file (for sth) ( law ) to present sth so that it can be officially recorded and dealt with :
[ v ]
to file for divorce
[ vn ]
to file a claim / complaint / petition / lawsuit
[also v to inf ]
[ vn ] ( of a journalist ) to send a report or a story to your employer
[ v + adv. / prep. ] to walk in a line of people, one after the other, in a particular direction :
The doors of the museum opened and the visitors began to file in.
[ vn ] file sth (away / down, etc.) to cut or shape sth or make sth smooth using a file :
to file your nails
noun senses 1 to 3 and verb senses 1 to 3 late Middle English (as a verb meaning string documents on a thread or wire to keep them in order ): from French filer to string, fil a thread, both from Latin filum a thread. Compare with file line .
noun sense 5 and verb sense 4 late 16th cent.: from French file , from filer to string.
noun sense 4 and verb sense 5 Old English fīl , of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vijl and German Feile .