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file 1 (fīl)
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n.
1. A container, such as a cabinet or folder, for keeping papers in order.
2. A collection of papers or published materials kept or arranged in convenient order.
3. Computers A collection of data or program records stored as a unit with a single name.
4.
a. A line of persons, animals, or things positioned one behind the other.
b. A line of troops or military vehicles so positioned.
5. Games Any of the rows of squares that run forward and backward between players on a playing board in chess or checkers.
6. Archaic A list or roll.
v. filed, fil·ing, files
v.tr.
1. To put or keep (papers, for example) in useful order for storage or reference.
2. To enter (a legal document) as an official record.
3. To send or submit (copy) to a newspaper.
4. To initiate (a lawsuit): file a complaint; file charges.
v.intr.
1. To march or walk in a line.
2. To put items in a file.
3. To make application; apply: filed for a job with the state; file for a divorce.
4. To enter one's name in a political contest: filed for Congress.
Idiom:
on file
In or as if in a file for easy reference: We will keep your résumé on file.

[From Middle English filen, to put documents on file, from Old French filer, to spin thread, to put documents on a thread, from Late Latin fīlāre, to spin, draw out in a long line, from Latin fīlum, thread; see gwhī- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
file 2 (fīl)
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n.
1. Any of several hardened steel tools with cutting ridges for forming, smoothing, or reducing especially metallic surfaces.
2. A nail file.
3. Chiefly British A crafty or artful person.
tr.v. filed, fil·ing, files
To smooth, reduce, or remove with or as if with a file.

[Middle English, from Old English fīl; see peig- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)
file2
left to right: double-cut flat file, single-cut round file, and single-cut half-round file

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
file 3 (fīl)
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tr.v. filed, fil·ing, files
Archaic
To sully or defile.

[Middle English filen, from Old English fȳlan; see p- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
fi·lé (fēlā, fĭ-lā)
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n.
Powdered sassafras leaves used to thicken and season soups, stews, and gumbos.

[Louisiana French, from French, past participle of filer, to spin thread (from its effect when added to hot liquids), from Old French; see FILE1.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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