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13 Sep. “To get a foot in the door.” What does this English expression mean and when should I use it?

This is a commonly used metaphorical English expression which does not have to relate literally to doors. This article will explain when and how to use it!


The expression is used to denote the act of completing the first step in a process. An example of this could be securing a job interview which therefore opens up the possibility of progressing further in the recruitment process.


The expression was first used more literally in the sense that when in conversation, putting a foot in the door would stop the door from shutting and therefore this ongoing conversation would have to continue.

More recently, the expression has adopted a more figurative meaning. One of this first recorded examples of this type of usage dates to the year 1914 in The Oakland Tribune. It is found in the following piece of dialogue;

“I’m merely asking that the first step be taken,” answered Mayor Mott.

“You’ve got a mighty clever way of getting your foot in the door, and then we can’t get it closed until the whole proposition is carried”, said Turner.


An example of the use of this expression can be found in a quote from the American inventor, Lori Greiner. He is quoted to have said “in business it is most often all about getting your foot in the door and once you do, everything opens up and things start to naturally progress into bigger and more opportunities.”

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