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What is a Doorman?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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A doorman guards the entrance to doors, and may work at apartment buildings, hotels, large business buildings or nightclubs. A related term to doorman is the word doorkeeper, the person responsible for guarding the door and permitting entry or denying it to people who want access to a building. The United States House of Representatives had an official doorkeeper until the post was abolished in 1995.

The doorman often provides extra security to a building, and many people who live in large apartments like having this little bit of extra protection. Though the doorman doesn’t necessarily act as a security guard, he can call into question the entry of people who are not supposed to be in a building. A good doorman at an apartment building doesn’t only open doors, but gets to know the apartment residents and usually friends or family who frequently visit residents.

When a doorman is in regular employment, its often customary to offer a seasonal tip to the doorman. This may be done cooperatively, or separately, depending upon the size of the building. A one to two dollar tip from friends and family at point of service is often customary too.

In other cases, the doorman protecting a business doesn’t necessarily need a tip. Instead he is usually the first contact with those entering a building and can provide information about where the person must go. Often, a concierge, help desk, or security personnel desk located near the entrance of the building has replaced the doorman. In certain businesses, access to the rest of the building may only be permitted if you have appointments or a legitimate need to be there. In this sense, the doorman, security guard or help desk personnel can keep a building safer by turning those away who don’t have a reason to be in a building.

A hotel doorman may also function as a porter, carrying bags to rooms, or assisting people from their cars to the reception desk. Sometimes the hotel doorman merely opens the door of the hotel, ushering people in. In movie theaters, the word doorman is usually synonymous with usher, a person who may guide people to their seats, or merely check tickets at the door of the theater to be certain the person has purchased a ticket to see the show. Ushers also may perform other responsibilities like cleaning theaters, making sure no one is illegally recording films, or occasionally asking rowdy guests to quiet down or leave the theater.

Another form of the doorman occurs in the position of greeter. Instead of restricting access, the greeter grants access by saying hello to customers entering a store. It’s common to find a greeter or doorman on auto lots, and in stores like Wal-Mart.

A bouncer is a specific type of doorman, often employed in bars and nightclubs. The bouncer’s function is to admit people, and to escort out any undesirable guests. Focus is on security and a safe environment for patrons.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Rundocuri — On Mar 01, 2014

I have found that whether you have an apartment doorman in your building, or you are staying in a hotel with a doorman, it is a good idea to tip him to show your appreciation for the work he does. He will give you a little extra help when you need it when you share your generosity with him.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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