If you’re a fan of spy movies, you’ve probably seen countless scenes in which an intrepid secret agent breaks into a secure government facility in order to steal a dossier, or a collection of files.

Dossier, which emerged in French in the 19th century, is derived from the French word dos, meaning “back.” While the connection between “files” and “backs” isn’t certain, it may pertain to the fact that the labels of dossiers were originally affixed to the back, or spine, of each file. If you speak French, you can apply your knowledge to the pronunciation of this word; the final syllable is pronounced with a long a sound, rhyming with “day.”

Definitions of dossier

n a collection of papers containing detailed information about a particular person or subject (usually a person's record)

Type of:
written account, written record
a written document preserving knowledge of facts or events

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