dos·​sier | \ ˈdȯs-ˌyā How to pronounce dossier (audio) , ˈdäs-; ˈdȯ-sē-ˌā, ˈdä- \

Definition of dossier

: a file containing detailed records on a particular person or subject the patient's medical dossier Police began compiling a dossier on him.

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Gather together various documents relating to the affairs of a certain individual, sort them into separate folders, label the spine of each folder, and arrange the folders in a box. Dossier, the French word for such a compendium of spine-labeled folders, was picked up by English speakers in the 19th century. It comes from dos, the French word for "back." The verb endorse (which originally meant "to write on the back of") and the rare adjective addorsed ("set or turned back to back," a term primarily used in heraldry) are also derived, via the Anglo-French endosser and French adosser respectively, from dos. The French dos has its origins in the Latin dorsum, a word which also gave English the adjective dorsal ("situated on the back"), as in "the dorsal fin of a whale."

Examples of dossier in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Last year, Durham charged a Russia analyst who was a source for that dossier with lying to the FBI about his own sources of information — among them, a longtime Hillary Clinton supporter. Eric Tucker, ajc, 17 May 2022 The dossier, published by BuzzFeed News, used code names to conceal its sources. Alan Cullison, WSJ, 9 May 2022 His campaign publicly posted the dossier along with the complaint on a website,, that attempts to rebut the allegations. Bryn Stole, Baltimore Sun, 15 Apr. 2022 The Moore campaign’s lawyer, Amanda S. La Forge, alleged without direct evidence that another campaign was behind the dossier and accused it of criminal activity. Washington Post, 6 Apr. 2022 And most news organizations, Chris, didn't publish the dossier. ABC News, 3 Apr. 2022 But the dossier has been largely discredited since its publication, with core aspects of the material exposed as unsupported and unproven rumors. Jill Colvin, ajc, 31 Mar. 2022 The bipartisan election commission also dismissed a complaint against Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier that caused a firestorm of allegations and investigations that shook the early months of Trump's presidency. Graham Kates, CBS News, 31 Mar. 2022 Durham’s indictment does not even allege that the dossier was fraudulent. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dossier.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dossier

1835, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for dossier

French, bundle of documents labeled on the back, dossier, from dos back, from Latin dorsum — see dorsal entry 2

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The first known use of dossier was in 1835

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dossier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on dossier

Nglish: Translation of dossier for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dossier for Arabic Speakers


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