Monday, March 05, 2012


This term means to put something to one side in order to come back to it later. It can also mean to classify something or someone into a specific category. For example, if you are good a performing a certain task you may find your boss always assigning that task to you.

In Medieval times (the actually time period, not the entertainment location) pigeons were kept as domestic birds for their meat. The pigeonhole referred to the openings in the wall or a hole in a specially made box for pigeons to live in.

By the late 18th century, the arrangement of compartments in writing cabinets and offices that were used to sort and file documents became known as pigeonholes for their resemblance to the old pigeon compartments.

By the 19th century, the term changed to refer to something that you would put aside to come back to later or to classify information.  

If you feel that you are being pigeonholed at work just be thankful that your boss doesn’t plan to eat you like the poor pigeon.

Thank you Lauren for suggesting this word.


  1. Interesting topic. I had no idea that pigeons were kept as domestic pets then eaten. It seems like a cruel way to treat a pet. However, I do see the value in it. I think you should do a post about the meaning of "till the cows come home" or "when pigs fly".

  2. Hey I had never considered that pigeons were kept as domestic animals then eaten. It seems like an odd practice. Was this done with any other animals? What was the reason that it shifted from the 18th century meaning to the 19th? Interesting post. Keep up the good work.