Is it wrong/illogical to say ... twisted open the door?"

6

Example sentence:

I twisted open the door.

Some people argue that you can't twist a door. You twist a doorknob.

However, some people have used this construction.

What's the real answer? Or there isn't one?

alexchenco

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 5 741

1For what it's worth, while the link you gave does show some people saying "twisted the door", note that it's mostly FanFiction and there aren't too many results. Not that FanFiction can't be written with proper grammar, just noting it's not necessarily a Scientific Journal or went through some more professional editing. (Also, only one page of results could be a clue it's not very common as well) – BruceWayne – 2018-12-17T16:15:45.950

1This actually doesn't knee-jerk the grammar nazi in me at all. Context makes it work. If you twist open a door quietly or quickly, you do it w/o releasing the strike; opening and twisting are the same motion. If opened awkwardly and slowly, I'd assume it was done w/o entering the room (and you should find a way to tell me that). Whether or not you release the strike, IMO your hand should still be on the knob if you twisted the door open. – Mazura – 2018-12-18T01:14:29.863

I'd say that the door itself pivots, it does not really twist, you could "pivot the door open". If a door has two extreme states: open, and closed, then the general transitional actions (verbs) between these states would be synonyms of open and close. We would use an adverb in conjunction with the action usually as a device to describe some attirbute of the door itself, or the person who is opening the door (the force used, or their intent). To say a door has been twisted doesn't provide the reader with any further clarification of how the action was performed or why. – Chris Schaller – 2018-12-18T04:31:15.023

The only valid use I'd see for "twisted" open is if it were opened with great force, such that it warped the door and/or broke the hinges. An example someone else gave on an answer was "an explosion twisted open the door". In a sci-fi setting I could see a sentence like "the cyborg twisted open the door, leaving it dangling by one hinge". – Doktor J – 2018-12-18T17:21:20.723

Answers

14

The rules of a language are based on what its speakers actually say. That you can find a handful of examples is more or less meaningless in face of the millions of examples where the verb is pushed open or pulled open or yanked open or kicked open or flung open or burst open or threw open.

You twist open a jar or something with a screw-cap.

P.S. It isn't a matter of logic but of the behavior of speakers.

Tᴚoɯɐuo

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 116 610

3

I think in at least some of the 100 or so instances OP found on the Internet, the writer is clumsily conflating *twisting the door handle* with *swinging the door open* (that's 73,000 instances).

– FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica – 2018-12-17T16:09:45.077

I would argue that you could logically explain the difference. The words rely on the "anchor point" of the motion. Twisting implies that the center of the object does not move, especially if there is some counter-motion as well. A standard door literally hinges on a hinge, and therefore does not twist. – andyjv – 2018-12-19T14:35:22.783

@andyjv: Can I "poke" a brick wall, or must the thing that is poked have some "give" to it, like an eye or the gap between a person's ribs? Can I poke open the door or poke the door open? Can I elbow the door open? Can I thigh the door open? Can I hip the door open? – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2018-12-19T14:40:26.350

@Tᴚoɯɐuo yes, because those all pretty accurately describe the action taking place. You could smash, kick, slap, jab, and blow (those actually kind of describe the action, not the type of motion); but you could not roll, slide, or spin the door unless it was a kind of door that has those motions. – andyjv – 2018-12-20T13:17:12.417

14

I would not use that combination. While technically not wrong it a very uncommon way to say this. To me "twisting a door" sounds like someone used magic to turn a door into rubber and twisted that like a rubberband.

I would any synonym of pushing or pulling, or words like slamming/kicking if you want to denote force.

Borgh

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 1 638

18If someone said they twisted open a door, I'd expect the door to be damaged afterwards, much as if they'd ripped it open. – Mark – 2018-12-17T21:31:27.597

2Agreed. I don't necessarily envision a magical transformation given this phrase, but I definitely envision some kind of transformation, from functional door to non-functional heap. – Timbo – 2018-12-18T01:45:39.263

4True: "the explosion twisted open the door" is a nice sentence. – Borgh – 2018-12-18T08:07:55.923

8

TL;DR "twisted" is probably wrong and "wrenched" is probably right.

To me it depends on how strong the subject of the sentence is. "Twisting the door open" could theoretically be an appropriate action if the subject is literally grabbing the door/doorframe and twisting so hard that the door is torn off of its hinges. In certain fantasy or sci fi contexts, this could be accurate. Given the mechanical difficulty of grabbing the edges of a door and forcefully twisting, this seems unlikely, especially when comparatively easier options like kicking a door down exist. If this is the case, an effective writer should provide some more illustration around the action itself like: "The enraged troll grabbed the edges of the door and twisted with such force that the hinges were torn from the frame."

As other posters have said, the best word for more standard contexts would be "wrenched", which could easily be mistranslated or erroneously taken from a thesaurus. In many contexts, "wrench" and "twist" are synonymous, and a "wrench" is a tool used for twisting things.

jmp

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 81

Been there, done that, never thought to apply the verb twist to apply to the action – Joshua – 2018-12-18T17:18:42.727

4

If you need a description of a forceful action, "Wrenched the door open" is a very valid phrase, and wrenching could be mistranslated as twisting. That being the case, since doors swing on a hinge, not around a central axis, doors are therefore not generally twistable.

Anecdote: twisting is generally applied to a rotational movement about a central axis, usually where that axis is the longer part of the object. This is not dictionary definition, by any means, but observationally about what types of objects "feel right" being described as twisted. (Like a doorknob, twisting around the handle's axis)

mix3d

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 141

2

If you want a door that twists open I suggest you search online for the Evolution Door. It is very ingenious.

I wouldn't say that a normal door twists.

chasly - reinstate Monica

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 4 332

Yes. I would say that normal doors like the ones in or around my house do not twist open. But maybe something like the hatch on a submarine or the loading bay on a fictional spaceship would twist open. But those are only marginally described as "doors". – OmarL – 2018-12-18T15:39:42.760

2

To me it sounds very odd. As you said, twist a doorknob is good here.

Jonathan Race

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 422

2

You don't "twist" a door, as twist implies an axis of rotation within the object or aggregate object.

Consider opening a jar, where the lid rotates in one direction while the jar itself does not (or rotates in the opposite direction). That is a twist. A door does not exhibit such a motion at any point in its opening or closing.

You could maybe say "twist a door on its hinges", but that is also a somewhat unnatural construction.

Upper_Case

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 1 400

1

Merriam-Webster's first definition for the verb "to open" gives the example of a door. I argue that the default English verb to move a door to the open position is simply "to open". Preceding the adjective "open" with another verb provides more detail to the act of opening. Most of the examples given ("wrench", "push") emphasize how this act differs from normal, in direction or intensity. But "twisting", as you use it, is the normal action of the door. At best it is redundant, at worst it is confusing. I highlight the answer of mix3d: in the English I've heard, twisting is usually along a central axis rather than along an edge (as with door hinges). I also highlight the answer of Tᴚoɯɐuo: language is about usage, not logic.

ma2canada

Posted 2018-12-17T12:39:55.247

Reputation: 11