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Suppose there is an automatic door to a room. That door may:

  1. simply let people walk in and out as they choose.
  2. let people walk in, but not walk out (deathtrap!)
  3. let people walk out, but not back in (vacant!)
  4. never let anyone walk in or out - the door is always closed.

Now in cases 1 & 3 only, the room is escapable. And in cases 2 & 4 only, the room is inescapable.

And in cases 1 & 2 only, the room is 'enterable'. And in cases 3 & 4 only, the room is 'unenterable'. But these aren't real words - what real words can go in their stead?

Furthermore, what word covers case 4 only? It should mean 'neither enterable nor escapable.'

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Impenetrable might work. – batpigandme May 18 '13 at 9:57
Barred? I think even the simple closed in its sense of 'closed (for ever)' could be an elegant option. – Kris May 18 '13 at 12:34
All the word choices of yours seem rather awkward for the context. You might better look for a set of words relative to the sense in the context. – Kris May 18 '13 at 12:38
Would 'impregnable' work in your context? – user867 May 21 '13 at 5:00
Or impervious, for that matter. For more possibilities, pick up a thesaurus. – keshlam Feb 14 at 16:16

5 Answers 5

You are looking for accessible, and its counterpart inaccessible.

As to a hypernym for inaccessible and inescapable, anything from closed to locked to sealed (off) can work, but there is nothing wrong with just saying that it is both inaccessible and inescapable, drawing a clear connection to the other three cases.

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I don't disagree with your suggestion, but I think accessible can carry two other connotations with it: 1. (at least as regards modern terminology in England) accessibility often refers to ease of accessibility for disabled, etc. persons; 2. on the same theme, it can refer to whether it is possible to get to, rather than through the entrance, eg. (to pick an extreme example) if the doorway were high up in a wall with no fixed ladder, in would be inaccessible unless you took a ladder with you. Also, I would say that OP's choice of escapable rather implies desperation to exit. – TrevorD May 18 '13 at 10:42
It's not a single word, and it may depend on the intended usage, but my current best thought is entrance only, exit only & entrance & exit. – TrevorD May 18 '13 at 10:50
@Trevor that the word has a secondary meaning, is irrelevant. You yourself just used two dozen words that are ambiguous in and of themselves. But nobody said the word must work in and of itself; in fact a whole lot of context is provided by the OP. In that context, accessible will be crystal clear. You are trying to find a word that will work without any context whatsoever. Not only is that futile, but you end up with something unnatural. Even if I agreed that "this room is exit only" is English, which I likely won't, it is certainly a very backwards way of saying that it cannot be entered. – RegDwigнt May 18 '13 at 11:26
+1 Access may be suitable but not quite spot-on here. An inaccessible place may happen to be not accessible on account of there being anything anywhere between the place and the person trying to reach. Remote places not connected by road, rail or air are inaccessible, due to either the distance or the terrain. I concede though that access is also a synonym of door*/ *entrance. – Kris May 18 '13 at 12:26
As for the context, the OP has provided the context so we could come up with a suitable word. The word per se need to convey the sense on its own, because obviously it is intended as a designator/ identifier, not just a word in a sentence. – Kris May 18 '13 at 12:37

A very apt word for describing a room that cannot be entered is unenterable. As you imply, this word doesn't appear in dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003)—though enterable does—but it has a long history of use, and I'm not sure what other criterion a word has to meet to qualify as a word.

A Google Books search for unenterable returns close to a hundred unique matches, dating back to the 1800s. From Robert Southey, notes on "The Destruction of the Dom Danael," in Southey's Common-place Book (by 1843):

The perpetual wind which rushing out of a cavern renders it unenterable, may guard the entrance to the Domdanyel.

From John Ruskin, letter to Lady Tervalyan, September 26, 1856, in The Works of John Ruskin (1909):

My father and mother had to sit it [a violent squall during a passage to England on a steamboat from Calais] to out all on deck—we are none of us ever ill—and the cabins were unenterable, except by creeping on all-fours over the fish-heaps.

From Carolyn Wells, The Mystery Girl (1922):

We've examined all the window sashes and door frame—oh, well, so far as I can see the room was absolutely unenterable. But, notwithstanding, I'm going to work on a murder basis. Because inexplicable as that seems, there are even more insurmountable difficulties in the way of the suicide theory.

From Missouri Division of Geological Survey and Water Resources, Caves of Missouri (1956) [combined snippets]:

As you climb up over the island, you will pass a small unenterable cave mouth and find a serrated, craggy, ridge crest on your left. Some of these crags are isolated, irregular pillars higher than they are thick, perforated by spongework cavities, and unlike almost anything else in Missouri topography.

And from Poul Anderson, Time and Stars (1964) [snippet]:

Nevertheless, the Pacific States had gained enormously in prestige and influence when the Order's unenterable Central was established in San Francisco at the time when the city was being rebuilt in earnest.

As for a single word that describes a room that cannot be entered or exited, I suggest unreachable, since, if you can't reach a room, you can't enter it, and if you can't enter it you can't exit it either.

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Blocked would simply describe a room that is neither "enterable" nor escapable. Open seems like a reasonable word for "enterable", but describing the ability to enter physically might suggest navigable or traversable.

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The word impenetrable springs to mind, especially in its common collocations: impenetrable fortress, impenetrable forest.

This definitely covers the inability to gain access, though the second part of your definition 'not escapable' is only inferable. Besides, if you can't get into the building, do you need a word which describes your inability to get out of it?

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-1 But, Darling, you already saw the definition from the dictionary. See also some usage examples to understand how penetration and access differ. – Kris May 18 '13 at 12:21
I actually think this is a pretty good answer. Impenetrable has connotations of someone or something outside the room/castle etc., unable to get inside. – goblin May 18 '13 at 12:37
I understand the question as merely a case of the door being locked in some way to deny access and/or egress. Impenetrable has a rather different meaning and is NOT suitable for the case described by the OP (as I understand it). – TrevorD May 19 '13 at 19:12
@TrevorD While it's kind of an overkill word for the situation, it's overkill in exactly the same way that inescapable is, so they make a good pair. – Bradd Szonye May 21 '13 at 1:03
@Kris: I'm well aware of how penetration and access differ. My suggestion covers a notion of breaching a closed-off entryway, whereas I see access as the ability to come to that entryway. – Darling May 21 '13 at 7:24

Any room that is enter-able with the right tools. A room that cannot be easily entered because the door is designed to be difficult to open from the outside is generally known as a locked room.

If the room is empty then cases 3 and 4 are indistinguishable.

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