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[pij-uh n-hohl] /ˈpɪdʒ ənˌhoʊl/
one of a series of small, open compartments, as in a desk, cabinet, or the like, used for filing or sorting papers, letters, etc.
a hole or recess, or one of a series of recesses, for pigeons to nest in.
Also called pigeon hole, white hole. Printing. white space created by setting words or lines too far apart.
verb (used with object), pigeonholed, pigeonholing.
to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system:
to pigeonhole new ideas.
to lay aside for use or reference at some later, indefinite time:
We must pigeonhole this excellent plan until the time is ripe.
to put aside for the present, especially with the intention of ignoring or forgetting, often indefinitely:
to pigeonhole an unwanted invitation.
to place in or as if in a pigeonhole or pigeonholes:
to pigeonhole papers.
to fit or provide with pigeonholes:
The desk must be pigeonholed for all my papers.
Origin of pigeonhole
First recorded in 1570-80; pigeon1 + hole
4. categorize, catalog. 5. file. 6. postpone, shelve. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pigeonhole
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He said coolly to the official who aroused him, 'Go to pigeonhole No.

    How to Succeed Orison Swett Marden
  • And reaching behind him into a pigeonhole he extracted an envelope, which he passed to me.

    Desert Dust Edwin L. Sabin
  • He belongs to no class, evades the label, and fits into no pigeonhole.

  • I could make a square or pigeonhole corner or lay out a brick footing.

    One Way Out William Carleton
  • But he went to his desk, and drew a long sheet of paper from a pigeonhole.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
  • The committee may pigeonhole it and not report it, or may report it too late for action by the body.

    Citizenship Emma Guy Cromwell
  • A category of pure reason is suspiciously like a pigeonhole.

British Dictionary definitions for pigeonhole


a small compartment for papers, letters, etc, as in a bureau
a hole or recess in a dovecote for pigeons to nest in
(informal) a category or classification
verb (transitive)
to put aside or defer
to classify or categorize, esp in a rigid manner
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for pigeonhole



  1. To classify; identify; button down, peg: I pigeonhole this clown as a total bigmouth (1870+)
  2. To put away or aside (1855+)

[fr the separate compartments of a desk or sorting system, likened to the orifices in a pigeoncote]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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