dossier • \DOSS-yay or DAH-see-ay\ •
: a collection of papers or a file that contains detailed information or records on a particular person or subject
Harold handed the English ambassador the thick dossier dealing with all the nefarious activities of his ne'er-do-well brother-in-law;the ambassador handed back the file filled with greener paper.
"Dossier" is actually the French word for a compendium of spine-labeled folders, which were used to collect a massive quantity of documents relating to the affairs of a person or organization.
The word was assimulated into English in the late 19th century. The word comes from the French word "dos", which means "back", which originated from the Latin word "dorsum" that also means "back". The English word "dorsal" which means "situated on the back" also originates from "dorsum".
"Dossier" has a 1984 Big Brother feel to it because of the earliest association of the word in English with the rather shady areas of big government, such as national security.
Dos`sier" (dOs`syA"; E. dos"si*ər), n. [F., back of a thing, bulging bundle of papers, fr. dos back.]
A bundle containing the papers in reference to some matter.
© Webster 1913
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