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Re: Circular file and inter-ocular test

Posted by Keith Rennie on December 02, 2004

In Reply to: Circum-file posted by platypus on December 01, 2004

: : : : : : : : : : What is the word origin for 'File 13'?
: : : : : : : : : : e.g. You're talking about the File 13.

: : : : : : : : : File 13 means the office trash can. "We'll put this document in File 13." I am guessing that "13" is used because it is an unlucky number.

: : : : : : : : Also called "the round file" because round is a popular shape for trash cans. Even though trash cans can be rectangular, just about the only thing in an office that's round is the trash can.

: : : : : : :
: : : : : : : ESC+ Brian, many thanks for your clear explanations. Is this expresion mainly used in the States or on both sides of the Atlantic?

: : : : : : I am from the New World, so I can't say if either of these expressions (File 13 or Round File) are used in the Old World.

: : : : : Being a Brit, I can confirm everyday office usage of "the round file" to mean the waste paper bin (aka trash can). File 13 is however a new one on me.

: : : : FILE 13 -- 1. A wastebasket. Especially military. Jocular. First citation in 1941. 2. A private or classified file containing harmful or embarrassing information. 1969. From Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, A-G by J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994.

: : : : Then there's the: UBI FILE Useless bits of information file. (Heather French Henry, Kentucky native, 27, presentation on Oct. 18, 2002, before the Kentucky Association of Government Communicators at Shaker Village, Ky.)

: : : In the UK unwanted items are often filed under 'B' (the bin).

: : : My office colleagues occasionally adjourn to Meeting Room Q (The Queen's Head, next door).

: : Dear all, thanks for your info.

: : In sum, the word File 13 is:

: : - Not used in the UK;
: : - A bit outdated expression in the US, although still used in Kentucky,
: : - the round file is used both in the States and the UK.
: :
: : In fact, I heard this expression in Kentucky about 15 yrs ago. I thought he was referring to a bin but couldn't tell where this comes from but I knew, thanks to you it was a miliyary slang.

: Once upon a time, all the little garbage pails provided for US government buildings, from the Pentagon to elemantary schools, were ugly, green, round, metal buckets. A popular term for throwing out the trash was "circum-file"

almost the same, bue "Circular file" was the term I was introduced to in Chicago in the late 1960s. AT the same time as its near-opposite, the "inter-ocular test" of statistical reliability (it's obviously true if it hits you between the eyeballs).