[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 or recess, or one of a series of recesses, for 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.
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

also pigeonhole, 1570s, “a small recess for pigeons to nest in,” from pigeon + hole (n.). Meaning “a compartment in a writing desk,” etc. is from 1680s, based on resemblance. The verb is from 1840 literally; figurative sense of “label mentally” is from 1870.

[Y]ou will have an inspector after you with note-book and ink-horn, and you will be booked and pigeon-holed for further use when wanted. [“Civilisation–The Census,” “Blackwood’s Magazine,” Oct. 1854]

Related: Pigeonholed.


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


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