verb (used with object), piled, pil·ing.

verb (used without object), piled, pil·ing.

Origin of pile

1350–1400; Middle English < Middle French < Latin pīla pillar, mole of stone

Synonyms for pile

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pile-up

Historical Examples of pile-up

  • There was no man up the tracks with a red flag to guard against a pile-up.

    Winner Take All

    Larry Evans

  • Saunders, who had been limping for some time, was taken out after a pile-up and Tyler took his place.

    Left Tackle Thayer

    Ralph Henry Barbour

British Dictionary definitions for pile-up




a collection of objects laid on top of one another or of other material stacked vertically; heap; mound
informal a large amount of money (esp in the phrase make a pile)
(often plural) informal a large amounta pile of work
a less common word for pyre
a large building or group of buildings
short for voltaic pile
physics a structure of uranium and a moderator used for producing atomic energy; nuclear reactor
metallurgy an arrangement of wrought-iron bars that are to be heated and worked into a single bar
the point of an arrow


(often foll by up) to collect or be collected into or as if into a pilesnow piled up in the drive
(intr; foll by in, into, off, out, etc) to move in a group, esp in a hurried or disorganized mannerto pile off the bus
pile arms to prop a number of rifles together, muzzles together and upwards, butts forming the base
pile it on informal to exaggerate
See also pile up

Word Origin for pile

C15: via Old French from Latin pīla stone pier




a long column of timber, concrete, or steel that is driven into the ground to provide a foundation for a vertical load (a bearing pile) or a group of such columns to resist a horizontal load from earth or water pressure (a sheet pile)
heraldry an ordinary shaped like a wedge, usually displayed point-downwards

verb (tr)

to drive (piles) into the ground
to provide or support (a structure) with piles

Word Origin for pile

Old English pīl, from Latin pīlum




  1. the yarns in a fabric that stand up or out from the weave, as in carpeting, velvet, flannel, etc
  2. one of these yarns
soft fine hair, fur, wool, etc

Word Origin for pile

C15: from Anglo-Norman pyle, from Latin pilus hair
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 pile-up

"multi-vehicle crash," 1929, from verbal phrase pile up, which is from 1849 as "accumulate," 1899 as "to wreck in a heap" (see pile (v.)).



"mass, heap," early 15c., originally "pillar, pier of a bridge," from Middle French pile and directly from Latin pila "stone barrier, pillar, pier" (see pillar). Sense development in Latin from "pier, harbor wall of stones," to "something heaped up." In English, sense of "heap of things" is attested from mid-15c. (the verb in this sense is recorded from mid-14c.). The meaning "large building" (late 14c.) is probably the same word.



"heavy pointed beam," from Old English pil "stake," also "arrow," from Latin pilum heavy javelin of the Roman foot soldier, literally "pestle" (source of Old Norse pila, Old High German pfil, German Pfeil "arrow"), of uncertain origin.



"soft, raised surface upon cloth," mid-14c., "downy plumage," from Anglo-French pyle or Middle Dutch pijl, both from Latin pilus "a hair" (source of Italian pelo, Old French pel). Phonological evidence rules out transmission of the English word via Old French cognate peil, poil. Meaning "nap upon cloth" is from 1560s.



"to heap up," mid-14c.; see pile (n.1). Related: Piled; piling. Figurative verbal expression pile on "attack vigorously, attack en masse," is from 1894, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

pile-up in Medicine




A hemorrhoid.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with pile-up


In addition to the idioms beginning with pile

  • pile into
  • pile up

also see:

  • make a bundle (pile)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.