I am looking for a phrasal verb to describe the act of putting (something/someone) into a bin, or categorising them (perhaps crudely, according to some heuristic/characteristic). "To bin" is as close as comes to mind, but doesn't quite capture the meaning I'm after.

More broadly, I need this for a sentence in which I'd like to cast doubt on that very characteristic that's being used for the classification.

This is my first post on this site, I hope it makes sense!

  • 'To label someone' or 'to put a label on someone' comes to mind - if you talk about an individual.
    – Stefan
    Feb 8, 2019 at 16:34
  • If you think that pigeonhole is appropriate, then it seems you aren't actually looking for phrasal verbs. I would consider editing your question to remove that criterion. Feb 9, 2019 at 3:11
  • As I commented below, pigeonhole "was certainly one of the words on the tip of my tongue". I would have thought I had a phrasal verb in there as well. I don't think this is a reason to edit the contents of my original question ;) I did add the phrase tag though.
    – z8080
    Feb 9, 2019 at 9:49

1 Answer 1


pigeonhole (as a verb).

Pigeonholing is a process that attempts to classify disparate entities into a limited number of categories (usually, mutually exclusive ones).

The term usually carries connotations of criticism, implying that the classification scheme referred to inadequately reflects the entities being sorted, or that it is based on stereotypes.


  • "Pigeonhole" seems perfect. "Paint [him/her] with too broad a brush" or "lump [him/her] in with" might work in some cases. More formally, "categorize." The situation is full of opportunities for creativity and allusion. Procustes awaits your call.
    – remarkl
    Feb 8, 2019 at 16:45
  • That was certainly one of the words on the tip of my tongue, thank you Scott :)
    – z8080
    Feb 8, 2019 at 16:51
  • +1 However, even though this is a good answer, I have to note that it's not a phrasal verb, as requested. (I had skipped this question altogether because I excluded single verbs as an answer.) But given the positive comment, I have to think that the question itself was poorly phrased. Feb 9, 2019 at 3:08
  • Please do feel free to suggest any phrasal verbs you may have in mind, I'm sure there are options that embrace even further nuances that may fit the context of the sentence. This is not an exact science :)
    – z8080
    Feb 9, 2019 at 9:51

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