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[fil] /fɪl/
verb (used with object)
to make full; put as much as can be held into:
to fill a jar with water.
to occupy to the full capacity:
Water filled the basin. The crowd filled the hall.
to supply to an extreme degree or plentifully:
to fill a house with furniture; to fill the heart with joy.
to satisfy fully the hunger of; satiate:
The roast beef filled the diners.
to put into a receptacle:
to fill sand into a pail.
to be plentiful throughout:
Fish filled the rivers.
to extend throughout; pervade completely:
The odor filled the room.
to furnish with an occupant:
The landlord filled the vacancy yesterday.
to provide (an office or opening) with an incumbent:
The company is eager to fill the controllership.
to occupy and perform the duties of (a vacancy, position, post, etc.).
to supply the requirements or contents of (an order), as for goods; execute.
to supply (a blank space) with written matter, decorative work, etc.
to meet satisfactorily, as requirements:
This book fills a great need.
to make up, compound, or otherwise provide the contents of (a medical prescription).
to stop up or close (a cavity, hole, etc.):
to fill a tooth.
Cookery. to insert a filling into:
to fill cupcakes with custard.
  1. to distend (a sail) by pressure of the wind so as to impart headway to a vessel.
  2. to brace (a yard) so that the sail will catch the wind on its after side.
to adulterate:
to fill soaps with water.
Civil Engineering, Building Trades. to build up the level of (an area) with earth, stones, etc.
verb (used without object)
to become full:
The hall filled rapidly. Our eyes filled with tears.
to increase in atmospheric pressure:
a filling cyclone.
to become distended, as sails with the wind.
a full supply; enough to satisfy want or desire:
to eat one's fill.
an amount of something sufficient for filling; charge.
Civil Engineering, Building Trades. a quantity of earth, stones, etc., for building up the level of an area of ground:
These houses were built on fill.
Compare backfill.
the feed and water in the digestive tract of a livestock animal, especially that consumed before marketing.
Verb phrases
fill away, Nautical.
  1. to fall off the wind and proceed on a board.
  2. to brace the yards, so that sails that have been aback will stand full.
fill in,
  1. to supply missing or desired information:
    Fill in the facts of your business experience.
  2. to complete by adding detail, as a design or drawing:
    to fill in a sketch with shadow.
  3. to substitute for:
    to fill in for a colleague who is ill.
  4. to fill with some material:
    to fill in a crack with putty.
  5. Informal. to supply (someone) with information:
    Please fill me in on the morning news.
fill out,
  1. to complete (a document, list, etc.) by supplying missing or desired information.
  2. to become larger, fuller, or rounder, as the figure:
    The children have begun to fill out since I saw them last.
fill up,
  1. to fill completely:
    to fill up a glass; to fill up a fuel tank.
  2. to become completely filled:
    The riverbed filled up as a result of the steady rains.
fill and stand on, Nautical. (of a sailing vessel) to proceed on a tack after being hove to or halted facing the wind; fill away.
fill the bill. bill1 (def 16).
Origin of fill
before 900; Middle English fillen, Old English fyllan; cognate with German füllen, Gothic fulljan to make full; see full1
Related forms
fillable, adjective
half-filled, adjective
unfilled, adjective
well-filled, adjective
2. crowd, pack, jam, cram. 13. satisfy, answer, fulfill. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for half-filled
Historical Examples
  • They are then placed in small tin boxes, half-filled with oil, which are taken to be soldered.

    Brittany Mortimer Menpes and Dorothy Menpes
  • Here was a vacant stall, except that it was half-filled with straw.

    The Rich Little Poor Boy Eleanor Gates
  • The engineer had straightened and was raising the half-filled canteen to drink.

    Bloom of Cactus Robert Ames Bennet
  • The dining room was half-filled with women, children and men.

  • Yet it is obvious that it costs little or no more to operate a well filled ferry-boat than one that is but half-filled.

    Our Railroads To-Morrow Edward Hungerford
  • Then he looked round at the half-filled canteen to see that he was unobserved.

    The Rough Road William John Locke
  • Then he lifted his half-filled glass and turned to her with an almost shy smile on his face.

    Katharine Frensham Beatrice Harraden
  • He heard the splash as the casket was dropped into the half-filled grave.

  • The bottle, half-filled with water and securely corked, was laid on a cushion in the window of Hunter's Jewelry Store.

    Poor White Sherwood Anderson
  • "Get in," he said, and half-filled the glass from the bottle.

    Ambrotox and Limping Dick Oliver Fleming
British Dictionary definitions for half-filled


(of a vessel, place, etc) holding or containing half its capacity


verb (mainly transitive) often foll by up
(also intransitive) to make or become full: to fill up a bottle, the bath fills in two minutes
to occupy the whole of: the party filled two floors of the house
to plug (a gap, crevice, cavity, etc)
to meet (a requirement or need) satisfactorily
to cover (a page or blank space) with writing, drawing, etc
to hold and perform the duties of (an office or position)
to appoint or elect an occupant to (an office or position)
(building trades) to build up (ground) with fill
(also intransitive) to swell or cause to swell with wind, as in manoeuvring the sails of a sailing vessel
to increase the bulk of by adding an inferior substance
(poker) to complete (a full house, etc) by drawing the cards needed
(mainly US & Canadian) to put together the necessary materials for (a prescription or order)
(informal) fill the bill, to serve or perform adequately
material such as gravel, stones, etc, used to bring an area of ground up to a required level
one's fill, the quantity needed to satisfy one: to eat your fill
Word Origin
Old English fyllan; related to Old Frisian fella, Old Norse fylla, Gothic fulljan, Old High German fullen; see full1, fulfil
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 half-filled



Old English fyllan "fill up, replenish, satisfy," from Proto-Germanic *fullijan (cf. Old Saxon fulljan, Old Norse fylla, Old Frisian fella, Dutch vullen, German füllen "to fill"), a derivative of adj. *fullaz "full" (see full (adj.)). Related: Filled.

To fill the bill (1882) originally was U.S. theatrical slang, in reference to a star whose name would be the only one on a show's poster. To fill out "write in required matter" is recorded from 1880. Fill-in "substitute" (n.) is from 1918.


"a full supply," mid-13c., fille, from Old English fylle, from Proto-Germanic *fullin- (cf. Old High German fulli, German Fülle, Old Norse fyllr), noun of state from *fullaz "full" (see full (adj.)). Meaning "extra material in music" is from 1934.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with half-filled
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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