Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English


English definition of “file”


noun [C]     /faɪl/
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 kept as part of a written record on paper or on a computer : I received an acknowledgment from the HR department that my name was on file. You should keep it on file for future reference .
→ See also box file, data file, log file, PDF, box file, program file, text file, zip file
(Definition of file noun from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
Focus on the pronunciation of file

Definitions of “file” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day


relating to behaviour between people that is pleasant and friendly, often despite a difficult situation

Word of the Day


Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More