Learn English Online - Idiomatic Expressions

Definition of Idiomatic Expressions


What does Indian file mean?

Meaning of idioms with examples...

Indian file


The phrase Indian file refers to a line of people or things arranged one behind another.

This idiom is especially used in the US. The British alternative for it is Indian file.

The origin of the phrase 'Indian file'

The phrase Indian file makes a reference to the perception settlers had about the American Indians' walk - that is in a line one behind the other on trails through the forest.

In French, a similar expression ('file indienne') is used to refer to the way Indians used to move in the woods.

Indian file


"In about an hour they returned very much intoxicated, singing their dead war songs, and every warrior naked, painted black from head to foot: as they approached the house in Indian file, each one repeated the following words […]" 1791, Voyages And Travels Of An Indian Interpreter And Trader, page 69.

This idiom is in the nationalities category

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