Filed vs. Filled — What's the Difference?
By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 21, 2023
Filed refers to having submitted or organized documents; filled means to occupy or load a space or object with something.
Difference Between Filed and Filled
Table of Contents
Filed is predominantly associated with the action of presenting or organizing documents. When someone says they "filed a report," they mean they have officially submitted that report to the relevant authorities. On the contrary, filled is more versatile in its usage, often denoting the action of occupying or loading a space or object. For example, a glass can be filled with water.
In a bureaucratic context, if a person has "filed" paperwork, they have submitted it for review or documentation. In contrast, when someone says a room is "filled" with people, they're emphasizing the room's capacity or that it's densely occupied.
Furthermore, "filed" can also suggest a sense of organization. In offices, documents are often filed into specific categories for easier access. Whereas "filled" can be used in different contexts. For instance, a form can be filled out, meaning all necessary fields have been completed.
Lastly, the word "filed" has a more formal tone and is often related to official, organized actions. The term "filled," meanwhile, is broader and can be applied in various everyday situations, like when a bucket is filled with sand or when a person's heart is filled with emotion.
Submission or organization of papers
Occupying or loading a space with something
Part of Speech
Verb (past tense of "file")
Verb (past tense of "fill")
Bureaucratic or official settings
Broad ranging from physical to emotional
Storing or arranging
Completing or occupying
Compare with Definitions
Organized in an orderly manner
All the invoices are filed alphabetically.
Occupied to capacity
The theater was filled with excited fans.
Entered a legal document in the official registry
The attorney filed the lawsuit on Monday.
Completed the required sections
She filled the application form carefully.
Placed in a specific category
The new data was filed under Miscellaneous.
Loaded with a particular quality
His voice filled with emotion as he spoke.
Used a file on something to smooth or shape it
He filed his nails before the photoshoot.
Satisfied or met a requirement
The new hire filled a vacant position.
She filed her application last week.
To put something into (a container, for example) to capacity or to a desired level
Fill a glass with milk.
Filled the tub with water.
A container, such as a cabinet or folder, for keeping papers in order.
An amount needed to make full, complete, or satisfied
Eat one's fill.
A collection of papers or published materials kept or arranged in convenient order.
Became pervasive in a space
The aroma of fresh bread filled the room.
(Games) Any of the rows of squares that run forward and backward between players on a playing board in chess or checkers.
To supply or provide to the fullest extent
Filled the mall with new stores.
To send or submit (copy) to a newspaper.
To repair a cavity of (a tooth).
(Computers) A collection of data or program records stored as a unit with a single name.
To add a foreign substance to (cloth or wood, for example).
A line of persons, animals, or things positioned one behind the other.
To flow or move into (a container or area), often to capacity
Water is filling the basement. Fans are filling the stadium.
A line of troops or military vehicles so positioned.
Music filled the room.
(Archaic) A list or roll.
To satiate, as with food and drink
The guests filled themselves with pie.
Any of several hardened steel tools with cutting ridges for forming, smoothing, or reducing especially metallic surfaces.
To engage or occupy completely
A song that filled me with nostalgia.
A nail file.
To satisfy or meet; fulfill
Fill the requirements.
Chiefly British A crafty or artful person.
To supply what is specified by or required for
Fill a prescription.
Fill an order.
To put or keep (papers, for example) in useful order for storage or reference.
To put a person into (a job or position)
We filled the job with a new hire.
To enter (a legal document) as an official record.
To discharge the duties of; occupy
How long has she filled that post?.
To march or walk in a line.
To cover the surface of (an inexpensive metal) with a layer of precious metal, such as gold.
To put items in a file.
To cause (a sail) to swell.
To make application; apply
Filed for a job with the state.
File for a divorce.
To adjust (a yard) so that wind will cause a sail to swell.
To enter one's name in a political contest
Filed for Congress.
To become full
The basement is filling with water.
To smooth, reduce, or remove with or as if with a file.
Material for filling a container, cavity, or passage.
To sully or defile.
A built-up piece of land; an embankment.
Simple past tense and past participle of file
The material, such as earth or gravel, used for this.
To initiate (a lawsuit)
File a complaint.
(followed by with) That is now full.
Simple past tense and past participle of fill.
Containing as much or as many as is possible or normal; as, filled to overflowing. Opposite of empty.
Entirely of one substance with no holes inside. Opposite of hollow.
Having appointments throughout the course of a period; - of an appointment schedule; as, My calendar is filled for the week. Opposite of unoccupied and free
(usually followed by `with' or used as a combining form) generously supplied with;
Theirs was a house filled with laughter
A large hall filled with rows of desks
(of time) taken up;
To build up the level of (low-lying land) with material such as earth or gravel.
To stop or plug up (an opening, for example).
Is "filed" always related to paperwork?
No, while "filed" often refers to the submission or organization of documents, it can also mean to smooth or shape something using a file.
Can "filled" be used in emotional contexts?
Yes, "filled" can describe both tangible and intangible aspects, such as "filled with joy" or "filled with dread."
Do "filed" and "filled" have similar root words?
No, "filed" is derived from "file," meaning to arrange or present documents, while "filled" comes from "fill," meaning to occupy space.
How do I know when to use "filed" vs. "filled" in a sentence?
Consider the context: "filed" usually pertains to documents or the use of a file tool, while "filled" relates to occupying or completing space.
Can something be both "filed" and "filled"?
Yes, a document can be "filed" in an office and also be "filled" with information.
Which word is broader in its application?
"Filled" has a broader application since it can be used in various contexts, from filling a space physically to denoting emotional states.
Is "filed away" a common phrase?
Yes, "filed away" typically means to store or organize something, usually documents, for future reference.
Can "filled" describe a temporary state?
Yes, something can be filled temporarily, like a room filled with people for a meeting, which will later empty.
Is "filed" only used in the past tense?
No, "filed" is the past tense of "file." However, "file" can be used in various tenses like "filing" (present participle) or "will file" (future tense).
If I "fill" a form and submit it, have I "filed" it?
Filling a form means completing the required fields. Submitting it, especially to an official body or in an organized manner, can be considered "filing" it.
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Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.