Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

As in,

Please do not __ this door after midnight.

Operate? Move?

share|improve this question
3  
I suspect that the message is because of noise. Why not address that directly? –  tenfour Mar 7 '12 at 15:36
1  
So if the door is closed, you don't want anyone to open it? And if the door is open, you don't want anyone to close it? That seems an odd instruction, but without more context it's hard to say. –  Jay Mar 7 '12 at 16:46
22  
"Don't $#^& with this door after midnight" –  Ben Brocka Mar 7 '12 at 19:16
2  
I agree with @tenfour - putting a reason on a sign might make people more likely to obey the sign. I can't find it now, but I recall a study where people asked for simple favors, and got better responses when they included a reason - even if the reason was silly. "Excuse me, could I use the copier before you, because I need to make some copies." Uh, sure... –  John C Mar 7 '12 at 21:14
2  
Perhaps WD40 is better than a dictionary in this case? –  osknows Mar 8 '12 at 0:37
show 2 more comments

9 Answers

up vote 34 down vote accepted

Why would you not just say "open or close"? It's unambiguous, short, and simple. I don't understand why you think you need a single word.

Please do not open or close this door after midnight.

share|improve this answer
3  
anything other than "open or close" would leave me scratching my head as to why they didn't say that. –  nohat Mar 7 '12 at 17:55
2  
@nohat: "Please do not use this door after midnight" would leave you scratching your head? –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 19:21
3  
@Robusto We can't tell if that's what the OP meant. "Use" can also mean walk through which might be allowed. –  Mark Beadles Mar 7 '12 at 19:34
2  
Well, this isn't augury or holy scripture. Far too much attention has been devoted to this question already, and now we're supposed to treat this as some kind of sacred text? –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 19:37
3  
@Robusto If the door was already open, "Please do not use..." would mean, please do not walk through it. It's basically asking for someone else be helpful and close it. –  Izkata Mar 7 '12 at 20:21
show 3 more comments

What about displace, manipulate, interact with or tamper with?

share|improve this answer
add comment

I'd say swing in that case

share|improve this answer
add comment

Since we seem to be implying there is a detriment to operating/using/toggling the door why not specifically ask the person not to incur the detriment: "Please don't creak the door after midnight!!" Just enumerate the negative effect as the action to avoid.

share|improve this answer
add comment

This door must not be used after midnight.

Or,

This door is not to be used after midnight.

share|improve this answer
    
See english.stackexchange.com/a/60373/2303 –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 19:37
add comment

Swinging after midnight not allowed?

share|improve this answer
1  
Apparently you don't know the definition of swinging. –  zzzzBov Mar 7 '12 at 19:07
12  
@zzzzBov: I suspect he knew the meaning. Charlie, thanks for the chuckle. –  J.R. Mar 7 '12 at 19:16
add comment

As an alternative to the other answers:

Please do not touch this door after midnight.

share|improve this answer
    
I think this takes it beyond what the OP is looking for. It would probably work in a small environment with a limited population. But if you have an unfamiliar population interacting regularly then the warning could be misconstrued, especially if the door is a large door with a remote opener. –  Chad Mar 7 '12 at 17:30
    
@Chad: Actually, we are not sure what the OP is looking for. (As of this writing, he has not responded to several comments suggesting that clarification would be helpful.) But point taken that, depending on the door, you could open or close it without touching it. I still think this is a much better single-word answer than use, if we are to take the OP's question at face value. –  John Y Mar 8 '12 at 0:10
add comment

I suppose toggle might work.

share|improve this answer
31  
Really? This sounds like a software door. Maybe I should write a jQuery plugin for the doors on my house and car. –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 16:33
1  
If you put up a sign on a real-world door that said "Please do not toggle this door after midnight", it would not be understood. –  Mark Beadles Mar 7 '12 at 17:17
17  
@MarkBeadles: Right, because you don't toggle the door, you toggle its openness state. Obviously, the sign should read, "Please do not toggle this door's openness state after midnight." Plain, clear, simple, everyday English. Guaranteed to be understood. ;-) –  ruakh Mar 7 '12 at 18:26
1  
@Robusto After a quick search of my normal project directories, it appears I have 6 classes called Door in a variety of languages. Take your pick. –  Polynomial Mar 7 '12 at 18:45
3  
@Polynomial: Do any of them implement the ICantFindMyKey interface? –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 18:56
show 6 more comments

I like operate or just use.

share|improve this answer
15  
@tenfour: "Use" is what most people would say if they didn't overthink it. The normal use case (!) for door opening and closing involves going through it, especially when someone considers forbidding such an action. –  Robusto Mar 7 '12 at 15:24
9  
If I read a sign that says "do not use this door after midnight", I would think I should not go through it. –  tenfour Mar 7 '12 at 15:38
7  
If you're not supposed to open or close it, I can't image you would be going through it. I definitely agree that "use" seems to be the best choice. –  heathenJesus Mar 7 '12 at 15:54
5  
Depending on just what the OP had in mind. He says he wants "do not open or close". So if the door was left open, someone shouldn't close it? If that's what he means, then "use" could be misleading. If I saw a sign saying "Do not use this door after midnight" and it was sitting open, I might think they want me to close it so no one can "use" it. –  Jay Mar 7 '12 at 16:44
3  
If the door is already open, then it would all right to walk through it. So "use" isn't right. –  Mark Beadles Mar 7 '12 at 17:19
show 3 more comments

protected by RegDwigнt Mar 7 '12 at 19:14

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.