Definition of fill in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /fɪl/


1 [with object] Cause (a space or container) to become full or almost full: I filled up the bottle with water the office was filled with reporters
More example sentences
  • Spoon batter into muffin pan which has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray, filling each cup ¾ full.
  • We filled two bin liners full of broken glass, cans and bottles.
  • Do not fill the bottles too full as this drink is very fizzy.
make/become full, fill up, fill to the brim, fill to overflowing, top up, charge, load (up), pack
crowd, throng, pack (into), jam, occupy all of, press into, squeeze into, cram (into);
overcrowd, congest, overfill
stock, pack, load;
supply, furnish, provide, replenish, restock, refill
block up, bung up, stop (up), plug, seal, caulk, close, clog (up), choke, obstruct, occlude, dam up
1.1Block up (a cavity in a tooth) with cement, amalgam, or gold.
Example sentences
  • In six European countries, dentists cannot legally fill teeth with silver amalgam (mercury).
  • The compaction of amalgam into the cavity is not simply a matter of filling the hole.
  • No one likes to do it, no one likes to spend the money or time, but filling a cavity is a whole lot cheaper than having a root canal.
1.2 [no object] Become full: Elinor’s eyes filled with tears the dining car filled up
More example sentences
  • But when the net filled so full with fish that they couldn't pull it into the boat, Peter realised that it was Jesus.
  • The place was only a third full when we arrived, but as it filled, the slower and slower everything became.
  • That keeps the waiting room full, and until recently, the coffers filled.
1.3 [no object] (fill up) Fill the fuel tank of a car.
Example sentences
  • What happens if you drive the car out of state and fill up with high-sulfur fuel?
  • The AA advises customers to shop around for fuel and to avoid filling up at motorway service stations.
  • Just recently a relative of mine was relieved of her handbag while getting into her car after filling up at a local petrol station.
1.4Become an overwhelming presence in; pervade: a pungent smell of garlic filled the air
More example sentences
  • The strong smell of his presence filled her senses and she found herself babbling uncontrollably, unable so stop.
  • Screams of nineteen other petrified people filled the air and pervaded my hearing.
  • The super-cute shop is always inviting, with the lovely smell of roses filling the air and rose petals scattered outside the entrance.
pervade, spread throughout/through, permeate, suffuse, be diffused through, diffuse through, imbue, penetrate, pass through, infuse, perfuse, extend throughout, be disseminated through, flow through, run through, saturate, impregnate
1.5Cause (someone) to experience a strong emotion or feeling: his presence filled us with foreboding
More example sentences
  • The fade-to-black at the end fills you with emotion and happiness; which is what a good film and a good song should do.
  • But as she explains to Jan Goodwin, her childhood was blighted by polio - an experience that filled her with fighting spirit
  • This experience does not fill me with confidence as to your abilities in the acquisition arena…
1.6 [no object] (Of a sail) curve out tautly from its supports as the wind blows into it.
Example sentences
  • The wind had risen, the ropes cracking and straining even louder as the sails filled to capacity.
  • For a while the ship kept bucking and sidling, the sails filling, now on one tack, now on another, till the mast groaned aloud under the strain.
  • Mark watched the other ship draw closer, sensing the increase in their own speed as the sails filled again and the oarsman got their rhythm.
1.7(Of the wind) blow into (a sail), causing it to curve outwards.
Example sentences
  • The wind filled the sails and the ropes creaked and stretched with the strain as the ship ploughed through the waves.
  • On its long Atlantic voyage, the armada made good progress with favourable winds filling the sails.
  • By the time I got my main down they'd headed off in a circle because the wind filled their downed sail and it was like trying to catch an insane dolphin - but I did.
2Appoint a person to hold (a vacant post): the board contacted him to say they had already filled the position
More example sentences
  • In 1913 Eddington was appointed to fill the vacant position of Plumian Professor of Astronomy.
  • It decided against filling the vacant post and the position won't be reviewed until later in the year.
  • He added that despite several requests, the state government was not filling the posts lying vacant in the corporation.
2.1Hold and perform the expected duties of (a post or role): he had filled the post in an acting capacity for some time
More example sentences
  • She did a great job, considering she didn't have a clue and wasn't expecting to be filling this role.
  • Jon Parkin is set to play in defence and is expected to fill that role at Northampton on Saturday when Chris Smith and Darren Edmondson are both suspended.
  • It follows the departure from frontline politics of several MSPs who were expected to fill important roles when elected in 1999.
occupy, hold, take up, be in, have
informal hold down
2.2Satisfy or fulfil (a want or need): community land trusts are a way to fill the pressing need for housing
More example sentences
  • Either would be an immediate upgrade, but neither player fills a pressing need.
  • The Redskins won't be shy about trading a midround pick, likely a third- or fourth-round selection, to fill a pressing need.
  • The latest Japanese craze fills the final need.
carry out, complete, fulfil, execute, perform, implement, discharge, bring about
rare effectuate
3Occupy or take up (a period of time): the next few days were filled with meetings
More example sentences
  • Months of social functions, illness and injuries have filled the intervening period.
  • In fact, the entire flight back was filled with chatter regarding how we planned to fill our days before the long cruise.
  • From the early seventies, the programmes started at 4.10, filling a ninety-minute period.
4chiefly North American Be supplied with the items described in (a prescription or order).
Example sentences
  • A register of prescriptions filled by local pharmacies provided continuous data on use of cholesterol lowering drugs.
  • After months of struggling to get enough chips to fill orders, supply is improving.
  • The basic job consists of maintaining the inventory of books and filling the orders from members as they come in.
5(In poker) complete (a good hand) by drawing the necessary cards.
Example sentences
  • Replace any cards you popped with ones from your hand (face up) and then draw card to fill your hand to five.
  • The dealer fills everyone's hand back to 6, and play resumes as normal.
  • Lee has 9-9 making top trips but he has to be wary of players staying with four-flushes and four-straights hoping to fill their hands.


1 (one's fill) An amount of something which is as much as one wants or can bear: we have eaten our fill I’ve had my fill of surprises for one day
More example sentences
  • Once you have had your fill of plain smoked salmon with brown bread and butter, think about using it in cooking.
  • As far as I'm concerned I've had my fill of Tim.
  • Well I've had my fill of fairness this afternoon.
enough, sufficient, plenty, ample, as much as necessary, all one wants, a sufficiency, an abundance, as much as one can take, more than enough
2An amount of something which will occupy all the space in a container: a fill of tobacco
More example sentences
  • 7.48 A.M. I drop my brother off at Newlands Cross and get a fill of petrol in the station there.
  • Just £15 will buy you a fill of Perfect Storm - a heady mix of compressed air, nitrous oxide and gaseous caffeine.
  • The vouchers can be used to buy clothes, tyres, a fill of oil, groceries, electrical goods - the list goes on and on.
2.1 [mass noun] Material, typically loose or compacted, which fills a space, especially in building or engineering work: loose polystyrene fill
More example sentences
  • It comes in lightweight easy-to-handle bags and should be used in the same manner as loose fill or cellulose.
  • Another method is to pour or blow in loose fill or cellulose insulation up to the joists for an even surface.
  • Suitable material was used as required for building highway fill.
2.2 [mass noun] The action of filling something, especially of shading in a region of a computer graphics display.
Example sentences
  • In many cases, its playable image quality surpassed the GeForce 6800 Ultra thanks to its superior fill rate and memory bandwidth.
  • In looking at fill rate performance, we're looking at two things: pixel fill rate, and texture fill rate.
  • It has an eight-pixel pipeline, as does the S8, capable of a 2.4 billion pixels per second fill rate.
2.3(In popular music) a short interjected phrase on a particular instrument.
Example sentences
  • By the album's last few tracks, the fills outweigh the backbeats to the point where he's pushing fusion jazz territory.
  • Req doesn't spend time drawing complicated drum-and-bass fills into a sequencer.
  • As the drummer spits out a cacophony of quick-wristed rhythms and slashing fills, the music rages on to a cathartic finale.



fill the bill

see bill1.

fill one's boots

informal Have as much of something as one wants; do something to the full: fill your boots with spicy Szechuan food for under five bucks a plate
More example sentences
  • While nearly 20 minutes of the second half passed without a Carlow score, Limerick filled their boots in the meantime and considered the journey home.
  • And from that moment it has filled its boots with business.
  • Wall-to-wall football might be hard for the weary professional players but the football fan can fill his boots.

fill someone's shoes (or boots)

informal Take over someone’s function or duties and fulfil them satisfactorily.
Example sentences
  • Laura, literally, fills Kim's shoes for two days with the help of a ‘fat suit’ and makeup.
  • Nevertheless, anyone filling your shoes will find it a hard act to follow.
  • I decided to move on, and I'm sure there are plenty of good, young guys capable of filling my shoes.

Phrasal verbs


fill in

Act as a substitute for someone when they are unable to do their job: my producer will have to have someone standing by to fill in for me
More example sentences
  • With Brooks absent because of a knock, the little-used Frost filled in at left-back.
  • In the absence of first-hand testimony, conjecture fills in.
  • Marky Ramone fills in on drums and former Black Flag member Dez Cadena slings guitar.
substitute, deputize, stand in, cover, provide cover, take over, act, act as deputy, act as stand-in, sit in, act as understudy, understudy, be a proxy, act as locum tenens;
take the place of
informal sub, fill someone's shoes/boots, step into someone's shoes/boots
North American informal pinch-hit

fill someone in

1Inform someone more fully of a matter: they filled me in on all the latest news from Cambridge
More example sentences
  • Can anyone fill me in on these important matters.
  • When Steve fully awoke, Shield filled him in on the details.
  • Seriously, somebody fill me in here.
inform of, advise of, tell about, notify of, acquaint with, apprise of, brief on, enlighten about, update with, bring up to date about, make conversant with, report to about
informal put wise about, put in the picture about, clue in about, bring up to speed on, tip off about
2British informal, dated Hit or punch someone: I filled in a chap and took his money
More example sentences
  • I filled in a chap and took his money.

fill something in

1chiefly British Add information to complete a form or other official document: simply fill in the application form and return it to your local branch
More example sentences
  • So all you have to do is download this word document and fill it in and send it off.
  • This is very convenient as forms can be filled in by dragging the information and of course the password feature will auto fill.
  • But the project hit the headlines over allegations about the way applications for funds had been filled in before Mr Pierges took over.
complete, answer, fill up;
North American  fill out
2Complete a drawing by adding colour or shade to the spaces within an outline: incised letters, filled in with gold
More example sentences
  • The island, water, ships and rigging are all filled in with warm shades of watercolor.
  • A few sections of the diagram are filled in with colour to create a shape that seems like a comet or some fantastic flying creature.
  • The artists had drawn the figures beforehand, and then filled them in like a paint-by-numbers picture, color by color.
3Occupy one’s spare time, typically while waiting for something else to happen: with all the shops to keep you occupied, you’ll have no problem filling in a couple of hours
More example sentences
  • Crump won't be looking to fill the void in his schedule, but will use the extra spare time for rest and to enjoy family life - on which he puts a high premium.

fill out

(Of a person) put on weight to a noticeable extent.
Example sentences
  • Rugby players, after they have filled out to their hop-assisted unnatural weight, don't go to games.
  • But I really feel that when he fills out he's going to be a force to be reckoned with.
  • It is a simple repetitive action that should stand up well under pressure, and I can only see it getting better as he matures and fills out a bit.
grow fatter, become plumper, become rounder, flesh out, put on weight, gain weight, get heavier

fill something out

chiefly North American
Add information to complete an official form or document.
Example sentences
  • Once we filled it out and sent it in, we were officially a private school.
  • After the movie I was walking through the diner and noticed a women filling out some kind of report.
  • The chosen one fills out a form about themselves.
5.1Give more details about something: further research will fill out these early findings
More example sentences
  • And there are several bits that would have filled the piece out: Side-effects from Plan B are less than in previous morning-after pills.
  • I'd like to try and fill out what he was getting at.
  • This meticulously researched book fills out his life and its achievements.
expand, enlarge, add to, round out, elaborate, add substance/detail to, flesh out, add flesh to, put flesh on the bones of;
supplement, reinforce, extend, broaden, develop, amplify


Old English fyllan (verb), fyllu (noun) of Germanic origin; related to Dutch vullen and German füllen (verbs), Fülle (noun), also to full1.

Words that rhyme with fill

bill, Brazil, brill, Camille, chill, cookchill, dill, distil (US distill), downhill, drill, Edgehill, Estoril, freewill, frill, fulfil (US fulfill), Gill, goodwill, grill, grille, hill, ill, instil, kill, krill, mil, mill, nil, Phil, pill, quadrille, quill, rill, Seville, shill, shrill, sill, skill, spadille, spill, squill, still, stock-still, swill, thill, thrill, till, trill, twill, until, uphill, will

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: fill

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.