Meaning of “pile” in the English Dictionary

"pile" in British English

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uk /paɪl/ us /paɪl/

pile noun (AMOUNT)

B1 [ C ] objects positioned one on top of another:

a pile of books
a pile of dirty clothes

B1 [ C ] a mass of something that has been placed somewhere:

a large pile of sand
a pile of sth/piles of sth

informal a lot of something:

I've got piles/a pile of things to do today.

More examples

  • He had a pile of papers on his desk.
  • Put those clothes in a pile for washing .
  • I have a pile of mending to do.
  • He found the piece of paper he had lost at the very bottom of the pile.
  • There's an enormous pile of washing-up in the sink.



uk /paɪl/ us /paɪl/

pile verb (OBJECTS)

[ I or T, + adv/prep ] also pile up to arrange objects into a pile:

We piled plenty of logs up next to the fire.
Please pile your homework books neatly on the table as you leave.
Her plate was piled (high) with salad.
Snow had piled up against the walls.

More examples

  • The saucepans clashed as he piled them into the sink.
  • She had a most elaborate hairdo, all piled up on top of her head.
  • In the village market, the stalls are piled high with local vegetables.
  • The logs were neatly piled against the wall.
  • Knowing he had a good appetite, she passed him a plate piled high with mashed potato.

(Definition of “pile” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"pile" in American English

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us /pɑɪl/

pile noun (THINGS)

[ C ] a number of things lying on top of each other:

a pile of newspapers
After dinner there is always a pile of dishes to be washed.

[ C ] infml A pile or piles can also be a lot of something:

I’ve got piles of homework.

pile noun (SURFACE)

[ U ] the soft surface of short threads on a carpet (= material for covering a floor) or on some types of cloth:

carpets with a deep pile


us /pɑɪl/

pile verb (MOVE)

[ I always + adv/prep ] (of a group of people) to move together, esp. in a way that is not organized:

About ten kids piled into the room, all talking at once.
Someone yelled "Fire!" and we all piled out into the street.

pile verb (THINGS)

[ always + adv/prep ] to put (things) near or on top of each other, or to collect in this way:

[ I ] Magazines just pile up on my desk at work.
[ M ] I asked her to pile on extra potatoes.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “pile” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"pile" in Business English

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pilenoun [ C ]

uk /paɪl/ us

a large amount of something:

a pile of cash/money
consumers with piles of credit card debt
I have piles of paperwork to finish.
at the bottom/top of the pile

at the bottom or top of a group of competing things:

Despite a shaky first quarter, the athletic shoe producer has once again emerged at the top of the pile.


uk /paɪl/ us
pile it high, sell it cheap

COMMERCE said when a store sells large amounts of a product at cheap prices, without spending effort or money on displays, advertising, etc.:

The discount grocer is once again thriving at the pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap end of the market.

(Definition of “pile” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)