pigeonhole someone

Hi all,

What is the meaning of ‘pigeonhole someone’?
Manish Kumar Yadav

To pigeonhole someone or something means to decide that they belong to a particular group, class or category. Often this is done to suit the person rather than to suit the individual. Frequently the person’s other qualities or characteristics are ignored.

The term derives from an office pigeon-hole. A pigeon-hole is one of the sections in a frame on a wall where letters and messages can be left for someone, or one of the sections in a writing desk where you can keep documents… hence, you fit a person into a particular section.

An example of pigeonholing might be this: Somebody working for a company may be a good designer – maybe one of the best designers at the company – but he also speaks five foreign languages well, so they give him various translation tasks to do. Pretty soon people stop thinking of him as a designer, but just as a foreign language expert, so he’s never given any design to do anymore. If you ask his coworkers, half of them have simply forgotten that he can design. He’s been pigeonholed.

This happens a lot in companies where people have trouble imagining a worker having more than one skill. They define the person as “being” whatever skill he has that most catches their eye.

Is this your story, Jamie? Were you pigeon-holed?

You have a sharp brain, Daemon. :slight_smile:

Hi M3h3m3,

The main idea behind pigeonholing someone is that you classify them as a type without thinking of them as an individual.