1. a thin layer or coating: a film of grease on a plate.
  2. a thin sheet of any material: a film of ice.
  3. a thin skin or membrane.
  4. a delicate web of filaments or fine threads.
  5. a thin haze, blur, or mist.
  6. Photography.
    1. a cellulose nitrate or cellulose acetate composition made in thin sheets or strips and coated with a sensitive emulsion for taking photographs.
    2. a strip or roll of this.
    3. the coating of emulsion on such a sheet or strip or on a photographic plate.
  7. Movies.
    1. a strip of transparent material, usually cellulose triacetate, covered with a photographic emulsion and perforated along one or both edges, intended for the recording and reproduction of images.
    2. a similar perforated strip covered with an iron oxide emulsion (magfilm), intended for the recording and reproduction of both images and sound.
    3. motion picture.
  8. Often films,
    1. motion pictures collectively.
    2. the motion-picture industry, or its productions, operations, etc.
    3. motion pictures, as a genre of art or entertainment: experimental film.

verb (used with object)

  1. to cover with a film, thin skin, or pellicle: filmed eyes.
  2. Movies.
    1. to photograph with a motion-picture camera.
    2. to reproduce in the form of motion pictures: to film a novel.

verb (used without object)

  1. to become covered by a film: The water filmed over with ice.
  2. Movies.
    1. to be reproduced in a motion picture, especially in a specified manner: This story films easily.
    2. to direct, make, or otherwise engage in the production of motion pictures.


    1. a sequence of images of moving objects photographed by a camera and providing the optical illusion of continuous movement when projected onto a screen
    2. a form of entertainment, information, etc, composed of such a sequence of images and shown in a cinema, etc
    3. (as modifier)film techniques
  1. a thin flexible strip of cellulose coated with a photographic emulsion, used to make negatives and transparencies
  2. a thin coating or layer
  3. a thin sheet of any material, as of plastic for packaging
  4. a fine haze, mist, or blur
  5. a gauzy web of filaments or fine threads
  6. pathol an abnormally opaque tissue, such as the cornea in some eye diseases


    1. to photograph with a cine camera
    2. to make a film of (a screenplay, event, etc)
  1. (often foll by over) to cover or become covered or coated with a film

Old English filmen “membrane, thin skin,” from West Germanic *filminjan (cf. Old Frisian filmene “skin,” Old English fell “hide”), extended from Proto-Germanic *fello(m) “animal hide,” from PIE *pel- (4) “skin, hide” (cf. Greek pella, Latin pellis “skin”).

Sense of “a thin coat of something” is 1570s, extended by 1845 to the coating of chemical gel on photographic plates. By 1895 this also meant the coating plus the paper or celluloid. First used of “motion pictures” in 1905.


c.1600, “to cover with a film,” from film (v.). Meaning “to make a movie of” is from 1899. Related: Filmed; filming.


  1. A light-sensitive or x-ray-sensitive substance used in taking photographs or radiographs.
  2. A thin layer or membranous coating.
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