Created as a passage that is large enough to accommodate people but not most forms of livestock, a kissing gate is commonly used on farms, ranches, and other facilities that house animals. The idea behind the kissing gate is to allow humans to pass in and out of the space with relative ease, but effectively prevent animals from being able to use the same gate. This is accomplished by a swing action that makes it possible to have the gate closed to the interior when open to the exterior.
The design of the kissing gate is what makes it unique from other more standard gates. Generally, the mechanism is composed of elements that help create an intermediate space between the interior and exterior of the fenced space. When an individual wishes to enter or exit the space, a hinged gate allows passage into this space and closes before allowing passage on to the other side. The actual design of the kissing gate may be rectangular, v-shaped or a half-round, depending on the actual design.
There are a couple of different theories about the origin of the actual name for the kissing gate. One possible origin has to do with the design itself. Since the gate mechanism is understood to kiss or touch the sides of the enclosure when in operation. A more fanciful idea has to do with a game associated with using the gate. Since only one person at a time can go through the mechanism, the first person emerging from the gate can effectively block the second person from proceeding. Usually, passage is granted upon the reception of a kiss. It is generally understood that this game only takes place between persons who are on friendly terms.
Kissing gates are a functional means of allowing easy passage to and from enclosed areas without allowing for the opportunity for livestock to leave the space. Along with permanent gates for people at farms and ranches, many county fairs and livestock shows will employ temporary enclosures that include a kissing gate for the use of attendants and judges into and from the space.