n. a physical or digital collection of historical records a fonds an individual record of continuing value a curated online collection of information and contextual data relating to a particular theme a conceptual construct of a storehouse of recorded knowledge with outsized social and political significance that generally controls meaning and discourse and serves as a simulacrum of truth and fact v. to transfer records of continuing value to a repository and to preserve and manage those records to back up or to store data offline adj. relating to archives and archival practice


Many American and Canadian archivists deprecate the use of the word “archive”—as a noun, verb, or even an adjective, in all of their many meanings. In the case of the noun, the faux plural “archives” is preferred in North American professional discourse—although “archive” is preferred in the rest of the English-speaking world. The verb is sometimes considered a déclassé usage that undermines the serious value of archives and perverts the meaning of what archivists do. The less recognized adjectival form “archive” is often used, but the use of that term is small compared to the use of the more common term “archival.” Despite this disregard for the term, the word “archive” as a noun and adjective is of relatively ancient vintage in North American professional writing about archives. The adjective appears in all of the earliest issues of The American Archivist, beginning in 1938, and the noun has been used by archivists at least since the early 1960s. “Archive” as a verb is about a quarter of a century old in professional parlance, but this archival (rather than information technology) sense of the verb appeared in Webster's New International Dictionary, second edition, as early as 1934. The meanings assigned to the word “archive” are legion, encompassing archival, information technology, and philosophical concepts.