Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Defenestrate \dee-FEN-uh-strait\ , verb;
1. To throw out of a window

Defenestration is a coined word that was invented in 1620 for a specific incident: the 'Defenestration of Prague.'
May 21, 1618 two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were thrown from a window and into the moat of the castle of Hradshin by Protestant radicals. This act marked the beginning of the Thirty Years War, which was highly destructive to Europe and seriously affected the power of the Holy Roman Empire.
There was a different 'Defenestration of Prague' in 1419 when seven members of the city council were killed by a group of radical Czech Hussites. This defenestration was integral in setting off the Hussite Wars, which lasted for 15 years. The word, however, was not coined for another 200 years and usually refers to the 1618 event, rather than the 1620 one.

Defenestration was taken from Latin fenestra meaning "window." Fenestra is possibly linked to the Greek phainein ("to show"), but it may be an Etruscan borrowing instead. Defenestration and defenestrated stem from the 1620 coinage, while defenestrate is a back-formation that wasn't used until around 1915.

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