When does a door cease to be a door? The straightforward response is “When it is open.”
The riddle may appear simple, but it contains a few intricate details that are worth investigating.
The Collins English Dictionary defines “ajar” as “partially open,” which may seem like a fairly straightforward term. Nonetheless, its etymology is more intricate.
According to the Oxford University Press, “ajar” derives from “on char.” “Char” derives from the Old English verb “cierran,” which means “to turn.” This definition, however, is now considered obsolete.
The first known use of “ajar” in its modern sense was in 1786. C.A. F. Mahn updated Webster’s etymology in 1864 and defined ajar as a + jar, but it did not appear in a dictionary until 1864. According to him, “jar” is a Dutch word that means “a harsh sound.” He also claimed that the word’s two accepted definitions, “a harsh sound” and “partially open,” were linked due to Shakespeare’s use of “jar” as “a pendulum of a clock’s oscillation.”
However, Oxford University Press discovered that the second definition of “jar” — “to turn” — more closely corresponds to how we use the
Puns and verbal games
The riddle “Door is Not a Door” is an instance of wordplay. Wordplay, also known as a pun, is commonly used in literature and everyday conversation to elicit laughter.
According to the Oxford Royale Academy, homophones are the basis of puns and wordplay. Homophones are words with the same pronunciation but possibly different spellings and meanings.
Puns can be humorous. When they are not, it is common to state that “no pun intended.”
Numerous jokes employ puns and wordplay. Here are some examples of typical literary devices:
Time flies by at a rapid rate. Fruit flies similar to a banana.
A hypertension patient’s life is always in jeopardy.
A horse is an exceptionally stable animal.
Behind Closed Doors
Doors have a long, illustrious history dating back thousands of years. Heron of Alexandria is credited with inventing the first automatic door, although it is unclear who exactly invented the first door.
Heron, a mathematician and engineer, lived in Alexandria, Egypt, between 10 CE and 70 CE. The University of St. Andrews claims he invented a heat- and pneumatics-powered automatic temple door opener.
Engineering’s great-great-grandfather is Heron. He also invented the first vending machine, a wind-powered organ, and a steam-powered engine.
Different Door Puzzles
The “door is not a door” conundrum is not the only door-related puzzle available. In reality, there are numerous riddles involving doors.
The following are from Riddles and Answers:
What has no hands but may knock on your door, and you should open it if it does? Opportunity
I pass through a door without entering or exiting. What exactly am I? The keyhole
What never asks questions and always provides answers? A door chime
What endures many blows but never weeps? A doorway