See more synonyms for pigeonhole on Thesaurus.com
  1. one of a series of small, open compartments, as in a desk, cabinet, or the like, used for filing or sorting papers, letters, etc.
  2. a hole or recess, or one of a series of recesses, for pigeons to nest in.
  3. Also called pigeon hole, white hole. Printing. white space created by setting words or lines too far apart.
verb (used with object), pi·geon·holed, pi·geon·hol·ing.
  1. to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system: to pigeonhole new ideas.
  2. to lay aside for use or reference at some later, indefinite time: We must pigeonhole this excellent plan until the time is ripe.
  3. to put aside for the present, especially with the intention of ignoring or forgetting, often indefinitely: to pigeonhole an unwanted invitation.
  4. to place in or as if in a pigeonhole or pigeonholes: to pigeonhole papers.
  5. 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

Synonyms for pigeonhole

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pigeonhole

Contemporary Examples of pigeonhole

Historical Examples of pigeonhole

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for pigeonhole


  1. a small compartment for papers, letters, etc, as in a bureau
  2. a hole or recess in a dovecote for pigeons to nest in
  3. informal a category or classification
verb (tr)
  1. to put aside or defer
  2. 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