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[film] /fɪlm/
a thin layer or coating:
a film of grease on a plate.
a thin sheet of any material:
a film of ice.
a thin skin or membrane.
a delicate web of filaments or fine threads.
a thin haze, blur, or mist.
  1. a cellulose nitrate or cellulose acetate composition made in thin sheets or strips and coated with a sensitive emulsion for taking photographs.
  2. a strip or roll of this.
  3. the coating of emulsion on such a sheet or strip or on a photographic plate.
  1. a strip of transparent material, usually cellulose triacetate, covered with a photographic emulsion and perforated along one or both edges, intended for the recording and reproduction of images.
  2. a similar perforated strip covered with an iron oxide emulsion (magfilm) intended for the recording and reproduction of both images and sound.
  3. motion picture.
Often, films.
  1. motion pictures collectively.
  2. the motion-picture industry, or its productions, operations, etc.
  3. motion pictures, as a genre of art or entertainment:
    experimental film.
verb (used with object)
to cover with a film, thin skin, or pellicle:
filmed eyes.
  1. to photograph with a motion-picture camera.
  2. to reproduce in the form of motion pictures:
    to film a novel.
verb (used without object)
to become covered by a film:
The water filmed over with ice.
  1. to be reproduced in a motion picture, especially in a specified manner:
    This story films easily.
  2. to direct, make, or otherwise engage in the production of motion pictures.
Origin of film
before 1000; 1890-95 for def 6; 1900-05 for def 7; Middle English filme, Old English filmen membrane; akin to fell4
Related forms
filmlike, adjective
refilm, verb (used with object)
unfilmed, adjective
well-filmed, adjective
11. mist, haze, cloud, veil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for film
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Over them lay a film, like that which veils the eyes of some dead thing.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Now ensued a spell of calm weather, with a film of haze over the sky.

    The Forest Stewart Edward White
  • The film formed after which none of us had ever seen recovery.

    Lotus Buds

    Amy Carmichael
  • In a few minutes every port was covered with a film of the weird stuff.

    Lords of the Stratosphere Arthur J. Burks
  • She looked at him through a film of tears, her face drawn and startled.

    Love-at-Arms Raphael Sabatini
British Dictionary definitions for film


  1. a sequence of images of moving objects photographed by a camera and providing the optical illusion of continuous movement when projected onto a screen
  2. a form of entertainment, information, etc, composed of such a sequence of images and shown in a cinema, etc
  3. (as modifier): film techniques
a thin flexible strip of cellulose coated with a photographic emulsion, used to make negatives and transparencies
a thin coating or layer
a thin sheet of any material, as of plastic for packaging
a fine haze, mist, or blur
a gauzy web of filaments or fine threads
(pathol) an abnormally opaque tissue, such as the cornea in some eye diseases
  1. to photograph with a cine camera
  2. to make a film of (a screenplay, event, etc)
(often foll by over) to cover or become covered or coated with a film
Word Origin
Old English filmen membrane; related to Old Frisian filmene, Greek pelma sole of the foot; see fell4
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for film

Old English filmen "membrane, thin skin," from West Germanic *filminjan (cf. Old Frisian filmene "skin," Old English fell "hide"), extended from Proto-Germanic *fello(m) "animal hide," from PIE *pel- (4) "skin, hide" (cf. Greek pella, Latin pellis "skin").

Sense of "a thin coat of something" is 1570s, extended by 1845 to the coating of chemical gel on photographic plates. By 1895 this also meant the coating plus the paper or celluloid. First used of "motion pictures" in 1905.


c.1600, "to cover with a film," from film (v.). Meaning "to make a movie of" is from 1899. Related: Filmed; filming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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film in Medicine

film (fĭlm)

  1. A light-sensitive or x-ray-sensitive substance used in taking photographs or radiographs.

  2. A thin layer or membranous coating.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for film


Related Terms

snuff film, splat movie

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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