What does “get a foot in the door” mean?

Get a foot in the door" is an idiom that means securing an initial opportunity or making a successful start. Learn its origin and common usage.

Understanding the Idiom

Definition and Origin

“Get a foot in the door” is an idiom that means to secure an initial opportunity or make a small but successful start at something.

The phrase originated from a sales tactic used by door-to-door salesmen who would block the door from being closed using their foot so that they could get the chance to convince the house owner to buy their product.

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.

Common Usage

The idiom is commonly used in business settings to describe the process of securing a job, contract, or other opportunity.

For example, “She was able to get a foot in the door at the company by starting as an intern.” Another example is, “I’m hoping to get a foot in the door with this new client by offering them a discounted rate for our services.” The idiom can also be used in non-business settings, such as in relationships or social situations.

For instance, “He was able to get a foot in the door with her by asking her out on a date.”

Synonyms

  • Break into
  • Gain entry
  • Establish a foothold

Overall, “get a foot in the door” is a useful idiom that describes the process of securing an initial opportunity or making a successful start at something.