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1. Chess any of the eight vertical rows of squares on a chessboard
2. Computing a named collection of information, in the form of text, programs, graphics, etc., held on a permanent storage device such as a magnetic disk


a hand tool consisting essentially of a steel blade with small cutting teeth on some or all of its faces. It is used for shaping or smoothing metal, wood, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a cutting tool with rows of cutting teeth along the working surfaces (planes or edges). The first files date from the early Iron Age (Hallstatt culture, c. 900–400 B.C.) and were one of the tools used by iron forgers. The instrument became widespread after the emergence of specialists in metalworking (ancient Rome). Files originally had parallel cutting ridges; later they acquired intersecting ridges. (Such files first appeared in Rus’ in the 12th century.) The following files are distinguished: bastard files (coarse cut), smooth-cut files (fine cut), and barette files (finest cut). Small files with fine cut are usually called needle files.

The cross sections of files may be rectangular, semicircular, triangular, or square. Rasps, files with separate points, are used for working wood and other nonmetallic materials. Files are used manually or mounted on special filing machines.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(computer science)
A collection of related records treated as a unit.
(design engineering)
A steel bar or rod with cutting teeth on its surface; used as a smoothing or forming tool.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


file: nomenclature
A metal (usually steel) tool having a rectangular, triangular, round, or irregular section and either tapering or of uniform width and thickness, covered on one or more of its surfaces with teeth or oblique ridges; used for abrading, reducing, or smoothing metal, wood, or other materials.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(file system)
An element of data storage in a file system.

The history of computing is rich in varied kinds of files and file systems, whether ornate like the Macintosh file system or deficient like many simple pre-1980s file systems that didn't have directories. However, a typical file has these characteristics:

* It is a single sequence of bytes (but consider Macintosh resource forks).

* It has a finite length, unlike, e.g., a Unix device.

* It is stored in a non-volatile storage medium (but see ramdrive).

* It exists (nominally) in a directory.

* It has a name that it can be referred to by in file operations, possibly in combination with its path.

Additionally, a file system may support other file attributes, such as permissions; timestamps for creation, last modification, and last access and revision numbers (a` la VMS).

Compare: document.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


A collection of bytes stored as an individual entity on every computer-based mobile or desktop device. A file is the common denominator of storage. All data and programs, no matter which kind, are stored as files with an assigned file name that must be unique within the storage folder (directory) it resides in. Files with the same name can reside in separate folders. See folder.

Computers Know Nothing About Data Files
To the computer, a data file is nothing more than a string of bytes that is identified by name and location in storage. Once read into the computer's RAM, the structure of a file is known to the software that manipulates it. For example, database files are made up of a series of records (rows) such as one per customer, vendor or transaction. Word processing files contain a continuous flow of text interspersed with format codes (tags).

Except for ASCII text files, which contain only raw text, all other data files have proprietary structures. Formatting and descriptive information are contained in headers at the beginning of the file and/or in tags interspersed throughout the file. XML is an example of a very popular tagged text file. See metadata and XML.

Computers Do Understand Program Files
In contrast to data files, the computer is inherently aware of the content of an executable program file, which contains machine instructions. When read from storage and written into RAM, the computer is given the starting byte in RAM, and it expects to find the machine language it recognizes and can execute, one instruction following the other (see machine language). Otherwise, it will not execute the program (see abend).

Everything Stored Is a File
The common unit of storage no matter what the application is the file.

File Contents
Following are the major file types and the data structures they contain. See file association, ASCII file, file system and files vs. folders.

DataFile Type       Contents

 data file       text & binary
  (table)         (rows/records)

 document        text & format codes

 spreadsheet     rows/columns of cells

 image           rows/columns of pixels

 drawing         list of vectors

 CD audio        digitized sound waves

  audio (MP3,    compressed digitized
  AAC, etc.)     sound waves

 MIDI            MIDI instructions

 video           digital video frames

 Web page        text, HTML tags &
  (HTML file)     JavaScript

 XML file        text

 batch file      text

 text file       text

 SoftwareFile Type       Contents

 source code     text

  language       binary (bytecode)

 executable      binary
  program         (machine language)

Lotsa Files
Files add up quicker than people realize. A virus scan in 2021 of this Mac identified more than a million files. Hard to believe such a large quantity exists when there are approximately 50 apps installed in the machine.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In spite of the tremendous efforts of IRS, taxpayers, and the software vendors, significant challenges remain--issues that may not be soluble by the time the returns are due to be filed later this year.
If the IRS prepares a substitute return on a foreign taxpayer's behalf, the taxpayer will be deemed not to have filed in the manner prescribed in Subtitle F, and thus will not be allowed deductions from gross income.
The IRS has made great strides in removing barriers by expanding the number of forms and attachments that can be filed electronically.
2896, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2003, filed with the Senate Committee on Finance, and the House Committee on Ways and Means (3/10/04).
A fine of $50 per eligible return not filed electronically will be assessed for those who chose to ignore the requirement.
Organizational ownership is what precludes storing company records in employees' garages or automobile trunks, and prohibits employees from assuming that the records they have created or filed are their own personal property, to purge, save indefinitely, or take with them when they retire.
Once a petition has been filed, the debtor's creditors (anyone with a security or adverse interest in property) may not take any actions to collect, assess or recover claims against the debtor or his or her property.
Filing returns: Under the new law, the IRS may request the bankruptcy court to order a dismissal or a conversion of a bankruptcy petition if the debtor fails to file a tax return (or fails to file for an extension) that becomes due after the date the petition is filed. A dismissal or conversion may also be ordered if a Chapter 11 debtor fails to pay any Federal tax obligations owed after the date the bankruptcy petition is filed.
Exempt Organization Returns: These regulations also allow an automatic three month extension for filing Forms 990 (series), 1041-A, 4720, 5227, 6069 or 8870 if a request is made on a timely filed Form 8868.
01-CV-0400(ESG)(D.D.C., complaint filed February 22, 2001.
A key concept for records managers is the records series (i.e., groups of records used or filed together).
The program has grown rapidly--from 25,000 electronically filed individual returns in 1986 to nearly 12.5 million during the 1993 filing season.