Get a foot in the door

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The idiom to get one’s foot in the door goes back at least to the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression get one’s foot in the door, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

To get one’s foot in the door means to make an initial contact, to obtain an opportunity, to attain the initial stage of development. Most often, to get one’s foot in the door means to attain an initial business opportunity, though it may also mean to make inroads in ingratiating yourself with someone. The idiom get one’s foot in the door is derived from the “hard sell” tactic used by door-to-door salesmen. Such a salesman, when attempting to sell a product, sticks one of his feet in the threshold of the door. This makes it impossible for the owner of the house to close the door, enabling the salesman to continue to make his pitch. A foot in the door is sometimes used as a noun to mean an opportunity.


“There are new possibilities with Netflix, Amazon and Apple, potentially lots of opportunity if you can get a foot in the door and be one of the chosen few to go through.” (The Guardian)

However, they found it difficult to get a foot in the door at many schools, as there were limits on what they could talk about with pupils. (The Otago Daily Times)

“We were talking and he said that they were looking for a volunteer assistant and I figured I have always wanted to coach at a higher level and this was my foot in the door.” (The Crookston Daily Times)