Door etymology: Merger of Old English dor (pl. doru, “large door, gate”) and Old English duru (pl. dura, “door, gate, wicket”). The base form is frequently in dual or plural, leading to speculation that houses of the original Indo- Europeans had doors with two swinging halves. Form dore predominated by the 16th Century, but was supplanted by door. First record of dooryard is c.1764; doorstep is from 1810.
Symbolism of Doors
Doors symbolize hope, opportunity, opening, passage from one state or world to another, entrance to new life, initiation, the sheltering aspect of the Great Mother. The open door is both opportunity and liberation.
Gates shares the symbolism of entrance, entry into a new life, communication between one world and another, between the living and the dead. Gates and portals are usually guarded by symbolic animals such as lions, dragons, bulls, dogs or fabulous beasts. At the gates of the House of Osiris, a goddess keeps each gate, and her name must be known to enter.
A door is an important element of a house, a symbol of passage from one place to another, one state to another, from light to darkness.
Entrances to holy places (temples, cathedrals) are not necessarily invitation to participate in the mysteries contained inside. The act of passing over the threshold means that the faithful must set aside their personalities and materialism, to confront the inner silence and meditation that it symbolizes.
As an access to a refuge or the warmth of a hearth, a door also symbolizes communication, contact with others and with the outside world. An open door attracts because it signifies welcome, invites discovery, but a door can also signify imprisonment, isolation. A closed door signifies rejection, exclusion, secrecy, but also protection against dangers and the unknown.
Doors in Literature
A doorway has a narrow view of the world, but a person can walk through the doorway. The doorway is their opportunity to actually make a difference in the world. People who are more willing to make a difference in the world have an easier time walking through the doorway then others.
Characters in stories that are too scared to walk through a door are also scared about what the world might do to them. They would rather keep that doorway as their shell from the rest of the world.
Words for Doors
“Not knowing when the dawn will come, I open every door.”
“A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of.“
“I look like just like the girl next door…if you happen to live next door to an amusement park.”
“The outward man is the swinging door; the inward man is the hinge.”
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”
Your Door Assignment
Write about doors. Doors of perception, cellar doors, sliding doors, The Doors. A portal or entry. A doorway. Indoors and out of doors. A door to your mind, locked doors, open doors. What does a door mean to you?
Off your hinges? You make a better door than a window? Katy, bar the doors! ybonesy is on her way, and Lord knows, we don’t want her shadow to darken the door.
There are so many door idioms. We beat paths to doors, get a foot in the door, see someone to the door, close one door only to have another open, and think fondly of the girl next door.
Pick up your fast-writing pen and your notebook and write without stopping. Cross that threshold, but don’t cross out. For 15 minutes. Now.
(Pssst. If you want to photograph doors, please do so and share your thumbnails in the comments section below.)
All photos were taken by ybonesy in January 2010, in or around
Hue, Vietnam, at three sites: the Citadel, the Palace of Emperor
Khai Dinh, or Emperor Minh Mang’s burial palace.