I saw this answer regarding "early days" in a related question, Meaning of "Early days I know but may help.":

Early days is a British idiom meaning "it’s too soon to make a judgment" about something.

Why, then, do people say "early doors"?

How can a door be early?

  • 2
    Who said "early doors"? Where did you see or hear it? Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 16:43
  • 1
    Per this NGram, idiomatic the early doors displaced early patrons back in the music-hall 1920s. But that's ancient history - today they're all just early customers. Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 17:12
  • (Except the collocation had a bit of a revival because of a British sitcom a couple of decades ago.) Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 17:13
  • @JackO'Flaherty - I hear it all the time on British TV and radio.
    – Lesley
    Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 17:16

3 Answers 3


"Early doors" in British English has a rather different meaning from "early days" in the linked question. Lexico has

early doors
informal British
Early on, especially in a game or contest.
you should try to wind up their star player early doors

Apparently originally with reference to admission to a music hall some time before the start of the performance.

The phrase is also used to refer to customers of a pub who get there right on opening time. There was a British TV sitcom called Early Doors about which Wikipedia says:

Etymology of show's title

The title is a British slang phrase meaning those who arrive earlier than is customary, and was often associated with pub customers who wait for or arrive soon after evening opening, around 5:30 pm. Until the law was changed in 1988, pubs in England closed in the afternoon. Most are now open all day. It is also widely heard in British football circles, and was resuscitated in comments about football. The phrase originates in the practice of British theatres from around 1870 of allowing customers who paid a little extra to enter the theatre early and choose their own seats to beat the rush just before the performance started.

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    I have heard (UK) 'early doors' used in meetings to signify that they will finish earlier than scheduled, and that in general it means 'somewhat earlier than expected'. Some usage blogs suggest it is mainly used in connection with football ('soccer') and mainly in the North of England, but I think it has escaped those confines and is out in the wild. Commented Nov 21, 2021 at 19:41

I clearly remember hearing this first from a football (soccer) commentator meaning the same as "early bath" i.e. being sent off the field of play before the end of the game. My guess at the time was that this must be a kind of eggcorn - a conflation of "early bath" and "her indoors" i.e. going home to the wife although I never got to the bottom of it (hence reading this).


Early doors is to leave early BEFORE the doors close. In the pub "Another one? No thanks, early doors, out tomorrow morning" NOT FOR BEING EARLY, as some of the 12 year olds would let you believe.

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