Definition of pigeonhole in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɪdʒɪnhəʊl/


1A small recess for a domestic pigeon to nest in.
Example sentences
  • It's fortunate that they set up those pigeonholes because some of the pigeons have come home to roost.
  • Her route in the north tower has been transformed into a 6ft-by - 6ft steel cubicle (called a ‘sorting case’) surrounded by tall metal racks of pigeonholes.
  • The ladder structure and the thousands of pigeonholes lining the inside are an amazing sight.
2Each of a set of small open-fronted compartments in a workplace or other organization where letters or messages may be left for individuals.
Example sentences
  • Every morning I'd check my pigeonhole in case the letter had finally arrived telling me that a distant relative had died and I was now the heir to a title and a vast estate.
  • It is basically one long corridor with a few alleys off the side. Right in the middle of it is an area called ‘the boxes’, which is a row of large pigeonholes for all the various media organisations where people leave their media releases.
  • Two weeks later I found his six pages of tightly typed notes in my pigeonhole.
cubbyhole, compartment, slot, locker, niche
2.1A compartment built into a desk for keeping documents in.
Example sentences
  • Putting our heads together, we came up with a construct rather like an old-fashioned pigeonhole desk that fits neatly between the forward cabin bulkheads.
  • The interior, which features a lighter wood - probably maple - is the most ambitious element of the desk, with stepped drawers, shaped pigeonhole valances, and a secret compartment.
  • It has a cross-banded panel that falls down and a section behind it pulls out to reveal a fitted interior of pigeonholes above drawers flanking a central section of nine drawers arranged in three rows.
3A category, typically an overly restrictive one, to which someone or something is assigned: people identified me with a homely farmer’s wife and I could never escape that pigeonhole
More example sentences
  • Each composer is placed in a pigeonhole or assigned to a particular school, while those who do not fit comfortably under any of the standard-isms get a category all to themselves.
  • The half-hour quiz show was a chance for Jane to escape her pigeonhole as that Yorkshire lass who sings ballads.
  • But only those who are both exceptionally talented and exceptionally savvy can escape the ethnic pigeonhole.
category, categorization, compartment, class, classification, group, grouping, grade, grading, designation, set, section, division


[with object]
1Assign to a particular category, typically an overly restrictive one: I was pigeonholed as a ‘youth writer’
More example sentences
  • However, the artist was not pleased to be pigeonholed as simply a cartoonist, particularly as this categorisation intensified in the public's mind - he took his other work just as seriously, and wanted to extend his repertoire further.
  • I don't mind being pigeonholed as long as people buy it and enjoy it.
  • I am an attractive girl working in the media who happens to be a lesbian, but I did not want to be pigeonholed as a ‘gay voice‘.
categorize, compartmentalize, classify, characterize, label, brand, tag, designate, grade, codify, sort, rank, rate
2Put (a document) in a pigeonhole: he pigeonholed his charts and notes
More example sentences
  • He then pigeonholed the letter and forgot about it until yesterday.
  • Pierce accepted his words as final and pigeonholed the message.
2.1Put aside for future consideration: she pigeonholed her worry about him
More example sentences
  • Pete pigeonholed his anxiety. There was nothing to be done now except hurry, and they were never invincible in the first place.
postpone, put off, put back, defer, shelve, delay, hold over, put on one side, lay aside, adjourn, suspend, put on ice, mothball, put in cold storage;
North American  table
informal put on the back burner

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pigeon|hole

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