File 13

File 13

File 13 refers to a trash can. The phrase is especially used in the U.S. military, and is less common outside the United States. In the United Kingdom,for instance, the expression "round file" or "circular file" is more common (in reference to trash cans typically being round). Expressions such as "I'll place that memo in file 13" are often heard in offices as a joking way of saying, "I'm going to throw away that memo."

Army Regulation 635-200 (Active Duty Enlisted Administrative Separations) Chapter 13, Separation for Unsatisfactory Performance. When a Soldier is removed from the military under this chapter and the paperwork is filed the slang term "File 13" refers to the action of filing the paperwork. Later, this term was adopted as a way to describe getting rid of a bad person or action. To File 13 paperwork was to get rid of it.


The first known citation of "File 13" was in 1941. The phrase's origins may perhaps be traced to 13 being a supposedly unlucky number, although the exact source is unknown. According to Slangsearch: Air Force, "File 13" refers to an aircraft's garbage can.

Usage in popular culture

File 13 is one of the simple games distributed in Dragon magazine. In this board game, players assume the roles of game publishers and each attempts to develop and market "hot item" games before the others.

There is an independent record label named File Thirteen Records, based originally in Little Rock, AR and now in Chicago, IL.

There is a song by the band AFI called "File 13," on the album Very Proud of Ya, which contains the lyric, "Someone should throw me away/Feel like a garbage can."


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