dos·​sier ˈdȯs-ˌyā How to pronounce dossier (audio)
: a file containing detailed records on a particular person or subject
the patient's medical dossier
Police began compiling a dossier on him.

Did you know?

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 Hickok assembled a dossier of studies showing that damage to speech production areas did not disrupt speech comprehension. Quanta Magazine, 2 Apr. 2024 The agency has come under intense scrutiny since the end of January when Israel presented a dossier alleging 12 members of UNRWA's staff participated in the Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, leading to several countries pausing UNWRA funding. Guy Davies, ABC News, 25 Mar. 2024 An intelligence dossier containing what Israel says is additional evidence was also transmitted to the U.S. and other allies, but has not been made public. Josh Lederman, NBC News, 13 Mar. 2024 The decision to halt funding came after Israel shared a dossier that alleged more than a dozen UNRWA employees had been involved in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and alleged widespread support for Hamas and other militant groups within the organization. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, 3 Feb. 2024 Recommended Safety West Bank settler extremists widen campaign against Palestinians The dossier says Israel also has wider evidence that UNRWA has employed 190 Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants. Reuters Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 Jan. 2024 That would be the Clinton campaign’s scheme to create a dossier of doctored materials alleging a Trump-Russia link. WSJ, 20 Dec. 2023 While the 10-K document is more worth than its weight in gold, any investor hoping to learn more about reading and understanding the various complexities of the dossier should tap into resources made publicly available either by the company or SEC. Jacob Wolinsky, Forbes, 1 Mar. 2024 The dossier states that 1,200 of UNRWA’s 12,000 staffers in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are local hires, are tied to one of the two groups in some way, according to the Journal. Jimmy Quinn, National Review, 29 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dossier.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dossier was in 1835


Dictionary Entries Near dossier

Cite this Entry

“Dossier.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


dos·​sier ˈdȯs-ˌyā How to pronounce dossier (audio)
: a file of papers containing a detailed report

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