I want to know the verb that describe the action that rotate or move or twist a door knob to open the door. I talked to my friend and said "please press the button before move it (the door knob)" and it sounded incorrect to me.

What word should I use to describe this action?


1 Answer 1


What you do to the doorknob is turn it.

Please press the button before turning the doorknob.

And just to demonstrate that this is a verb (or in fact the verb) that people actually use, here are the top 20 collocations from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA):

 turned the doorknob    19  
 tried the doorknob     17  
 twisted the doorknob   11  
 touched the doorknob    8  
 grabs the doorknob      7  
 turn the doorknob       7  
 turning the doorknob    6  
 tries the doorknob      6  
 rattling the doorknob   4  
 rattles the doorknob    4  
 turns the doorknob      3  
 see the doorknob        3  
 rattled the doorknob    3  
 grasped the doorknob    3  
 find the doorknob       2  
 found the doorknob      2  
 jiggling the doorknob   2  
 jiggles the doorknob    2  
 grips the doorknob      2  
 gripping the doorknob   2

As you can see, out of the many things people like to do to doorknobs in various situations, only turn and twist really fit the bill in yours, "the action of rotating or moving or twisting a doorknob". And while your very own twist is quite high on the list in its simple-past form, it is outnumbered by the corresponding form of turn, and other forms of turn are breathing down its neck with no corresponding forms of twist in sight.

Lastly, just to round it up before I'm accused of being US-centric, here are the stats from the British National Corpus as well:

turn the doorknob        2
tried the doorknob       1
feel the doorknob        1
describing the doorknob  1

That's not statistically significant in and of itself (due to the smaller corpus size), but it does nicely complement the COCA results.

  • 1
    Well, I think you're drifting from the question. You're just listing every verb that you could find used in connection with the work "doorknob". They don't mean at all the same thing. To "grasp" something is to take hold of it. It does not mean to turn it. To "find" something doesn't necessarly even mean touching it. I might find a doorknob by groping for it, but I might also find it with a flashlight. Surely there are thousands of other things one could do to a doorknob besides the verbs you list: you could install a doorknob, repair it, buy it, sell it, store it, throw it at someone, etc.
    – Jay
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 6:16
  • 2
    To piggy-back on what @Jay said, it seems like which word gets used might depend on whether or not the door was locked. Jiggled, rattled, and tried all conjure images of locked doors (at least in my mind). Felt the doorknob seems like a prudent thing to have done when a house is on fire, if my memory about fire safety serves me correctly. But, yes, knobs are generally turned, whether they are found on the door, or on your radio console.
    – J.R.
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 8:05
  • @Jay: quite frankly, I am offended by your suggesting that I think grasp and find mean the same thing as turn. I list the top verbs from the corpus as is presicely to support the point — my point — that out of the thousands of things you can do to a doorknob only turning it suits the OP's needs. I say which verb to use right in the first sentence. One verb. A clear recommendation. The rest is icing on the cake and in fact was added later. The original answer was just the first sentence. And now I get downvoted for not leaving it at a half-assed one-liner. Hmph.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 13:24
  • Anyway, I have edited my answer to spell everything out as explicitly as possible, so other people don't get to misinterpret it. Have a look.
    – RegDwigнt
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 14:16
  • @RegDwighт I didn't say that I thought that you thought that "grasp" means "turn", etc. I said that your answer drifted from answering the question to listing every verb you could find associated with "doorknob". Even with your edit, this is still an exercise in superfluous irrelevancy. Your goal seems to be to list every wrong answer you can find after giving the right answer. What is gained by that? Anyway, I doubt there's a point in arguing about it. BTW, I am deeply offended by your misreading of my comment. It makes me cry inside. :-)
    – Jay
    Commented Dec 30, 2012 at 5:03

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