pi·​geon·​hole | \ ˈpi-jən-ˌhōl How to pronounce pigeonhole (audio) \

Definition of pigeonhole

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a hole or small recess for pigeons to nest
2 : a small open compartment (as in a desk or cabinet) for keeping letters or documents
3 : a neat category which usually fails to reflect actual complexities


pigeonholed; pigeonholing; pigeonholes

Definition of pigeonhole (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to place in or as if in the pigeonhole of a desk
b : to lay aside : shelve his reports continued to be pigeonholed and his advice not taken— Walter Mills
2 : to assign to an often restrictive category : classify

Other Words from pigeonhole


pigeonholer \ ˈpi-​jən-​ˌhō-​lər How to pronounce pigeonhole (audio) \ noun

Examples of pigeonhole in a Sentence

Verb She likes to perform different types of music because she doesn't want to be pigeonholed.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Princeton had this sort of, this pigeonhole for faculty wives, they just were supposed to go to the certain parties and behave in a certain way. Katie Hafner, Scientific American, 7 Apr. 2022 Pascal, for one, is ready to do away with the pigeonhole. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, 19 Dec. 2019 Schumann created a nuanced new genre unfit for generic pigeonholes that includes aspects of opera, oratorio, chamber music and song. Mark Swed, latimes.com, 4 June 2018 The more common punishment, however, is a pigeonhole. Lee Jenkins, SI.com, 6 Mar. 2018 Taking their name from a childhood board game, Hüsker Dü evaded pigeonholes while outshining most of their punk brethren. Jason Heller, The Atlantic, 9 Oct. 2017 Lynne grew increasingly frustrated with her Nashville pigeonhole, and was not shy about saying so in public. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, AL.com, 25 Aug. 2017 The blisters that made him funnel pitches into a pigeonhole for two months are finally clearing up. Andrew Baggarly, The Mercury News, 3 June 2017 An NCAA title on Monday might finally show how enormous this is, how strong Gonzaga had to be to escape its pigeonhole. Mark Whicker, Orange County Register, 30 Mar. 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Suns and Jae Crowder have repeatedly told the media to not pigeonhole him as just a 3-point gunner. Dana Scott, The Arizona Republic, 5 May 2022 His 28 7/8-inch arms would be the shortest of a starting outside cornerback in the NFL, which will likely pigeonhole him into the slot, and likely off some draft boards entirely. Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune, 24 Apr. 2022 Despite this, ultimately the label seemed like another example of how the industry and society try to downplay a Black artist’s range, to pigeonhole them into a certain corner. Greg Emmanuel, Essence, 4 Apr. 2022 That includes going against the tendency to pigeonhole women like Brice and Feldstein as quirky sidekicks. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, 24 Mar. 2022 Nor does the brand want to pigeonhole itself, as Li and Zhou look beyond China for inspiration. CNN, 5 Apr. 2022 The obvious theme of any spring practice is depth development and Clark and Reeves are expounding that notion by refusing to pigeonhole any position this offseason. Evan Dudley, al, 1 Apr. 2022 His life reminded the journalist in me how pointless trying to pigeonhole someone can be. Los Angeles Times, 19 Mar. 2022 That’s why Americans often pigeonhole the mandolin as a folk instrument, Oberlin said. Sheryl Devore, chicagotribune.com, 9 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pigeonhole.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of pigeonhole


1577, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1840, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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The first known use of pigeonhole was in 1577

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Dictionary Entries Near pigeonhole



pigeon horntail

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Last Updated

17 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pigeonhole.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pigeonhole. Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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Nglish: Translation of pigeonhole for Spanish Speakers


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