[ pij-uhn-hohl ]
See synonyms for: pigeonholepigeonholed 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.

  1. 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.

  1. to put aside for the present, especially with the intention of ignoring or forgetting, often indefinitely: to pigeonhole an unwanted invitation.

  2. to place in or as if in a pigeonhole or pigeonholes: to pigeonhole papers.

  3. 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

Other words for pigeonhole

Words Nearby pigeonhole

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pigeonhole in a sentence

  • “I see,” said Loris, reaching into a pigeonhole and drawing out a small yellow check-book.

    Whispering Wires | Henry Leverage
  • She tied it up, so to speak, in a neat package and put it in a pigeonhole.

    The Salamander | Owen Johnson
  • The Lone Ranger reasoned that the object, whatever it was, had been in the last disordered pigeonhole.

    The Lone Ranger Rides | Fran Striker
  • Each classified group is metaphorically a pigeonhole to contain similar material.

    The Classification of Patents | United States Patent Office

British Dictionary definitions for pigeonhole


/ (ˈpɪdʒɪnˌhəʊl) /

  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

  1. informal a category or classification

  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