What to call a speakeasy-door-slit-hatch-peephole-thing?
August 23, 2010 8:50 PM   Subscribe

You know that vertical slit in the doors of speakeasies, mafia hideouts and other places where you need to be sized up before entering? With the little metal hatch that slides to one side? Is there a word for it other than "peephole?"

I need to refer to one in something I'm writing, but "peephole" just doesn't have the right sound, nor does it evoke the image I'm going for. And the synonyms my thesaurus lists don't seem to be quite right, either.

Thanks so much if you can come up with anything! I'm blocked enough on this scene as it is without vocab issues piled on top.
posted by Narrative Priorities to Writing & Language (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've heard them referred to as "speakeasy grills".
posted by cecic at 8:59 PM on August 23, 2010

Spy hole. Or, alternatively, make it a grille instead of a slit.
posted by Paragon at 9:00 PM on August 23, 2010

Yeah, agreed that thesauruses aren't much help. From them I got eyehole and spyhole. But doing another search on spyhole got me the phrase 'Judas Hole.' Much more potential for writing.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 9:03 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

The only alternatives I can are "peeker hole, " "speakeasy grill" and "speakeasy grate." Not terribly helpful, I don't guess.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:07 PM on August 23, 2010

1690, from Fr., from It. (Florentine) vedetta "watch tower, peep hole," from vedere "to see" (see vista).
posted by zengargoyle at 9:20 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not a direct answer, but it might help to broaden the search terms or idea you're trying to get across: the similar sliding hatch opening on prison doors is called a cuff port.
posted by phunniemee at 9:24 PM on August 23, 2010

Apparently in hardware, they are called door viewers.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:34 PM on August 23, 2010

"sliding peephole" seems pretty concise.
Wandered through movie scripts and Google Books search results to find a few examples. Interesting collection of actual (alleged) speakeasy passwords found as a result.
posted by ffej at 9:38 PM on August 23, 2010

How about "modern-day murder-hole"?
posted by jayne at 12:54 AM on August 24, 2010

My first thought was a mantrap, though I guess people may not be in a vestibule where the door behind them locks while they are checked out.
posted by indigo4963 at 6:11 AM on August 24, 2010

Judas hole.
posted by stuck on an island at 6:33 AM on August 24, 2010

Thanks for the suggestions! I'll try to muddle through with your excellent advice!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:44 AM on August 24, 2010

Raymond Chandler used "Judas window" The Long Goodbye, but it wasn't quite the same thing.

I also learned "spifflicated" form that book.
posted by chairface at 11:47 AM on August 24, 2010

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