I. file file 1 [faɪl] noun [countable]
1. information about a person or subject that is kept by a company or other organization:

• I see from my files that we still have not received payment from you.

• A credit reference agency is a company which keeps files on individuals' debt records.

2. on file if information is kept on file, it is kept so it can be used when it is needed:

• We will keep your application on file.

3. OFFICE a box or a cover made of heavy paper or plastic, used to store papers, letters, or documents:

• Copies of every letter are kept in a file to record what was agreed.

ˈbox file OFFICE
a file that is made of cardboard and shaped like a box, which you can stand upright on a shelf and use for storing papers in
4. COMPUTING a collection of information on a computer that is stored under a particular name:

• Be careful not to delete (= remove ) any important files.

• You might want to rename the file at a later date.

Save a copy of the file to disk and send it to me.

ˈdata file COMPUTING
a file containing information that a computer program changes into a form that can be used by the user. An example of a data file is a help file that provides the user with information on using their computer:

• To move a data file from a folder to the desktop, you click on it, and then drag and drop.

ˌdata ˌinterchange ˈformat ˌfile abbreviation DIF file
COMPUTING a computer file in which information has been taken from a file in one program and is held in such a way that it can be moved to a file in a different program
ˈlog file COMPUTING
a file that records the progress of computer operations, including error messages, that you can use to find out why a particular operation did not work:

• Ensure that the log file is deleted periodically so it remains a sensible size.

portable document format file a computer file that can contain words and pictures. It can be sent from one computer to another and always looks the same on every computer
ˈPostScript file COMPUTING
a file in a form that can be printed. PostScript is a trademark:

• The final stage is to have the documents typeset which usually means taking PostScript files to a typesetter.

ˈprogram file COMPUTING
a computer program containing a series of instructions that it sends to a computer's central processing unit so that the user can create documents. The names of program files usually end with .exe or .com:

• If a program file gets deleted by a virus, simply reinstall it from the master disk.

— compare data file
ˈtext file COMPUTING
a simple file containing a written document:

• Format and print is an excellent facility for adding page numbers to a standard text file.

ˈweb log ˌfile COMPUTING
a computer file that stores information about the people who visit a website, how often they return, how they use the website etc:

• Businesses need to analyze their web log file data.

ˈzip file COMPUTING
a file that has been Compressed (= made smaller) by changing the information in it into a special code, so that it uses less space when you store it. To read or use the file, you change it back into its original form:

• I was sent the work in the form of a compressed zip file.

  [m0] II. file file 2 verb
1. [transitive] to keep or put papers with information on them in a particular place, so that you can find them easily:

• The reservation form and confirmation slip are then filed alphabetically.

2. [transitive] ACCOUNTING to officially send your accounts to the authorities:

• You could be prosecuted for failing to file your accounts before February 28.

— see also pay and file
3. [intransitive, transitive] LAW to officially record a complaint, law case, official document etc:

• Chevron filed a lawsuit to remove Pennzoil as a shareholder.

• America's federal bankruptcy code was rewritten in order to make it easier to file for bankruptcy (= inform the authorities that a business is bankrupt ) .

* * *

file UK US /faɪl/ noun [C]
IT a collection of information that is stored on a computer as one unit under one name: text/computer/image file »

Click on the command and a box pops up showing how big the text file is and how long it should take to save to your hard drive.

save/create/copy a file »

It's best to save the file to a common directory.

open/read/view a file »

You will need Adobe Acrobat installed in order to open the file.

write to/edit a file »

It is necessary to designate a group of people who are allowed to edit the file.

close/delete a file »

If you reboot your computer with the startup disk in the drive, you'll get to a prompt from which you can delete the file.

a written record kept on a person, subject, or organization: »

Employees who get an award for good work have a notice of it put in their employee file.


The FBI does not keep a file on every citizen of the United States.

refer to/read a file »

The company won't know the full details until they have read his file.

a container used to store papers and other documents together, especially in an office: »

Many organizations are doing good work around policy, but too often it sits forgotten in a file somewhere.

on file — Cf. on file
See also BOX FILE(Cf. ↑box file), DATA FILE(Cf. ↑data file), LOG FILE(Cf. ↑log file), PDF(Cf. ↑PDF), BOX FILE(Cf. ↑box file), PROGRAM FILE(Cf. ↑program file), TEXT FILE(Cf. ↑text file), ZIP FILE(Cf. ↑zip file)
file UK US /faɪl/ verb [T]
to store information or documents carefully so that they are easy to find, either in a place such as a folder or desk, or on a computer: »

The effective e-manager will make it clear where on the system to file documents.

file sth under sth »

An organization with initials in the name, eg W H Smith, will be filed under the initial, in this case W.

file sth away »

It's tempting to file away all the paperwork relating to your pension and forget about it.

LAW to officially record something such as a complaint: file a lawsuit/a suit/charges »

He is planning to file a lawsuit against the current chairman for an alleged violation of a clause in his contract.


file a complaint/claim/petition

ACCOUNTING to officially send something such as your accounts: »

Any gain or loss should be reported when you file your tax return.


It was found that the company had failed to file accounts at Companies House.

Financial and business terms. 2012.

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