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This is the wording on signs I've been seeing quite often recently. It seems to me quite nonsensical; if you have to push the door to open it, it isn't automatic.

Is that the case or is there something about automatic I don't understand?

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Does the door open the rest of the way when you push it a little? Or is there a sign near a button where you push the button? Lastly, could it be that the door is broken? – mplungjan Mar 20 '11 at 10:08
"Power assisted" is too verbose, it would seem. – lotsoffreetime Mar 20 '11 at 12:03
@mplungian, perhaps it does. I just barge through, particularly in the case of the door to the Gents at Middlesbrough station, where I am frequently in a hurry. – Brian Hooper Mar 20 '11 at 18:48
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Whenever I've seen this sign, it has been referring to a button on or near the door. Pressing the button causes the door to open automatically.

The buttons are usually placed to ensure they can easily be pressed by wheelchair users.

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makes sense. – n0nChun Mar 20 '11 at 11:01
Even so, I wouldn't call it automatic: shouldn't it be "motorized" or something? – DaG Mar 20 '11 at 11:08
@DaG: I think there are degrees of automatic-ness: even though you have to press the button to initiate the opening, the door swings open by itself, stops at the right point, and (in my experience) closes itself again after a suitable delay. That seems very similar to the operation of an automatic washing machine - it may do all the work, but I still have to press a button to make it start :-) – psmears Mar 20 '11 at 11:19
@DaG The door is still automatic in the sense that it does not need to be physically pushed/pulled open, it's just not automatic in the sense of reacting spontaneously. Agree however that the terminology could have been better chosen. – maniacyak Mar 20 '11 at 11:51
and @maniacyak: Yes, I see, and this is consistent with a dictionary definition such as: "working by itself with little or no direct human control". – DaG Mar 20 '11 at 12:48

I have that kind of door on my apparment building. Instead of having a separate button to open the door, the door itself has a sensor that notices when you start to open the door.

So, actually opening the door is not automatic, but then it will automatically swing open and stay open for a while.

You can compare this to other uses of automatic, where for example an automatic gun still needs a trigger, and an automatic gearbox needs to be put in drive.

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Automatic doors still have to be opened in the case of power outages, and having instructions for this contingency is a reasonable thing to do.

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Yes. This sign is almost always referring to the ability to push them open if they are not functioning. – SingLow Mar 22 '11 at 17:44

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