get one's foot in the door

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Probably from a practice attributed to door-to-door salesmen of placing a foot in the opening of a prospective customer's door, thereby preventing the person from closing the door until the conclusion of the sales pitch.


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get one's foot in the door (third-person singular simple present gets one's foot in the door, present participle getting one's foot in the door, simple past got one's foot in the door, past participle (UK) got one's foot in the door or (US) gotten one's foot in the door)

  1. (idiomatic) To initiate contact or a relationship; to gain access, especially to an entry-level job.
    • 1935 Feb. 19, "When You Let the Gamblers In," Milwaukee Journal, p. 8 (retrieved 10 June 2009):
      And the legislature had better study Texas, before it commits this state to parimutuel betting, thus letting the professional gambler get his foot in the door.
    • 2007 Feb. 4, Sara Boyd, "A Formula for Greatness," Washington Post, p. Y14 (retrieved 10 June 2009):
      But despite his academic credentials, Julian had to fight just to get his foot in the door at most laboratories.
    • 2021 December 29, Tom Allett, “How Wilston Jackson made railway history”, in RAIL, number 947, page 52:
      He was able to gain employment as a cleaner relatively quickly. It was a 'foot in the door', but it wouldn't appease his ambition for long and he later qualified as a 'passed cleaner' (a fireman in all but name), based at King's Cross and St Pancras.

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