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  1. an act or instance of filling.
  2. something that is put in to fill something else: They used sand as filling for the depression.
  3. Dentistry. a substance such as cement, amalgam, gold, or the like, used to fill a cavity caused by decay in a tooth.
  4. a food mixture that goes into something, as if to fill it: sandwich filling; pie filling.
  5. Also called pick, weft, woof. Textiles. yarn carried by the shuttle and interlacing at right angles with the warp in woven cloth.
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Origin of filling

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400; see origin at fill, -ing1
Related formsself-fill·ing, adjectiveun·fill·ing, adjective


verb (used with object)
  1. to make full; put as much as can be held into: to fill a jar with water.
  2. to occupy to the full capacity: Water filled the basin. The crowd filled the hall.
  3. to supply to an extreme degree or plentifully: to fill a house with furniture; to fill the heart with joy.
  4. to satisfy fully the hunger of; satiate: The roast beef filled the diners.
  5. to put into a receptacle: to fill sand into a pail.
  6. to be plentiful throughout: Fish filled the rivers.
  7. to extend throughout; pervade completely: The odor filled the room.
  8. to furnish with an occupant: The landlord filled the vacancy yesterday.
  9. to provide (an office or opening) with an incumbent: The company is eager to fill the controllership.
  10. to occupy and perform the duties of (a vacancy, position, post, etc.).
  11. to supply the requirements or contents of (an order), as for goods; execute.
  12. to supply (a blank space) with written matter, decorative work, etc.
  13. to meet satisfactorily, as requirements: This book fills a great need.
  14. to make up, compound, or otherwise provide the contents of (a medical prescription).
  15. to stop up or close (a cavity, hole, etc.): to fill a tooth.
  16. Cookery. to insert a filling into: to fill cupcakes with custard.
  17. Nautical.
    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.
  18. to adulterate: to fill soaps with water.
  19. Civil Engineering, Building Trades. to build up the level of (an area) with earth, stones, etc.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to become full: The hall filled rapidly. Our eyes filled with tears.
  2. to increase in atmospheric pressure: a filling cyclone.
  3. to become distended, as sails with the wind.
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  1. a full supply; enough to satisfy want or desire: to eat one's fill.
  2. an amount of something sufficient for filling; charge.
  3. 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.
  4. the feed and water in the digestive tract of a livestock animal, especially that consumed before marketing.
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Verb Phrases
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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  1. 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.
  2. fill the bill. bill1(def 16).
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Origin of fill

before 900; Middle English fillen, Old English fyllan; cognate with German füllen, Gothic fulljan to make full; see full1
Related formsfill·a·ble, adjectivehalf-filled, adjectiveun·filled, adjectivewell-filled, adjective

Synonyms for fill

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for filling

stuffing, mixture, layer, dressing, insides, cylinder, center, cartridge, wad, inside, innards, padding, packing, inlay, pad, fill, pack, wadding, shim, filler

Examples from the Web for filling

Contemporary Examples of filling

Historical Examples of filling

British Dictionary definitions for filling


  1. the substance or thing used to fill a space or containerpie filling
  2. dentistry
    1. any of various substances (metal, plastic, etc) for inserting into the prepared cavity of a tooth
    2. the cavity of a tooth so filled
  3. textiles another term for weft
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  1. (of food or a meal) substantial and satisfying
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verb (mainly tr often foll by up)
  1. (also intr) to make or become fullto fill up a bottle; the bath fills in two minutes
  2. to occupy the whole ofthe party filled two floors of the house
  3. to plug (a gap, crevice, cavity, etc)
  4. to meet (a requirement or need) satisfactorily
  5. to cover (a page or blank space) with writing, drawing, etc
  6. to hold and perform the duties of (an office or position)
  7. to appoint or elect an occupant to (an office or position)
  8. building trades to build up (ground) with fill
  9. (also intr) to swell or cause to swell with wind, as in manoeuvring the sails of a sailing vessel
  10. to increase the bulk of by adding an inferior substance
  11. poker to complete (a full house, etc) by drawing the cards needed
  12. mainly US and Canadian to put together the necessary materials for (a prescription or order)
  13. fill the bill informal to serve or perform adequately
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  1. material such as gravel, stones, etc, used to bring an area of ground up to a required level
  2. one's fill the quantity needed to satisfy oneto eat your fill
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Word Origin for fill

Old English fyllan; related to Old Frisian fella, Old Norse fylla, Gothic fulljan, Old High German fullen; see full 1, 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

Word Origin and History for filling


verbal noun from fill (v.). Dentistry sense is from 1848. Filling station attested by 1921.

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"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.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

filling in Medicine


  1. Material, such as amalgam, gold, or a synthetic resin, used to fill a cavity in a tooth.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with filling


In addition to the idioms beginning with fill

  • filled to the brim
  • fill in
  • fill out
  • fill someone's shoes
  • fill the bill

also see:

  • back and fill
  • get one's fill of

Also see underfull.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.