She peeped through the door asking for permission to enter.

Does peeped through have a negative connotation? If so, is there a better word or phrase to be used in such context?


The word 'peeped' suggests something surruptitions and illicit. It is strongly associated with "peeping Tom", someone who spies on people.

"peered" means roughly the same as "peeped", but without the secretive and negative connotations. "Peeked" might ulso be viable.

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  • +1 If you take the OP's use of through the door into account, then peer might be more suitable; i.e., if the door is made of glass or similar. If it isn't, then it doesn't really work well. – coleopterist Oct 14 '12 at 20:47

Yes, peeped through the door suggests something secretive or cautious. That said, it is probably okay to say:

She peeped in asking for permission to enter.

Or, using a close cousin:

She peeked in asking for permission to enter.

The usual phrases also involving "the door" run along the lines of:

She stuck her head in the door asking for permission to enter.

She poked her head in the door asking for permission to enter.

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  • Or, "She looked round the door." – David Garner Jul 6 '15 at 9:56

Peeping definitely can have a negative connotation. Consider

He peeped through the window hoping to enter. She saw Tom looking in and called the police.

The phrase, peeping Tom has widespread use (at least in the US) for someone who illegally breaches privacy

a person who derives sexual pleasure from secretly watching people undressing or engaging in sexual activity.

While the word can be used in the simple sense of looking through a narrow opening, more often peep has a secretive quality

look quickly and furtively at something, especially through a narrow opening

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Peeped often has a negative connotation, but not always. The context should establish whether the observer has a RIGHT to be looking.

If someone peeps in my windows, that is negative (he does not have the right to look in). But if a toddler peeps out from behind his mother's dress, that is positive (he has every right to look out and would do more if he weren't shy).

The hole with which I establish who is outside my hotel door is a peephole. I can peep out it, but others should not peep in.

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