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Defenestration (wikipedia.org)
36 points by conse_lad on Jan 22, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 54 comments

Some of French use this term when installing Linux over Windows on a computer... :)

Not just the French! I'm from the US and recall using it as early as 2006...

Harry was unsuccessful in his oral defenestration of the grape seeds, which were now sliding ungracefully down the inside of the half open passenger window of Sally's otherwise immaculately kempt vehicle, leaving a trail of the kind that remains visible until chemicals are used in the cleaning.

What a fantastic paragraph... is this from a book?

Thank you friend :)

As dhess pointed out below it's a moment from a scene in the movie When Harry Met Sally. The wording above, however, is my own.

That scene just happened to pop into my head when I read the word defenestration, so I decided I'd like to "use it in a sentence". I've read some Pynchon in my time, too, so I have a penchant for densely descriptive prose. I'm glad it was appreciated.

You’re welcome! I’ve always wanted to read Pynchon, but have never made the time. Any recommendations on which book to start with?

The Crying of Lot 49, it's more a novella, but is still quite dense.

Bleeding Edge was relatively straight forward compared to Vineland. I haven't had the courage to tackle some of the larger tomes of Pynchon's yet.


The act of throwing something or someone out of a window. [from c. 17th c.]

(Britain) The high-profile removal of a person from an organization.

(computing, humorous) The act of removing the Microsoft Windows operating system from a computer in order to install an alternative one.

"In December 1840, Abraham Lincoln and four other Illinois legislators jumped out of a window in a political maneuver designed to prevent a quorum on a vote that would have eliminated the Illinois State Bank."

Imagining something like this happening today is ... difficult, to say the least.

Well, we certainly have had legislators hiding in motels across district lines in recent memory, and sherifs being sent to bring them back.

Oregon ended up having State Senators flee across State lines. Even one going so far as to warn law enforcement to send unmarried men without families to try to forcibly collect them.


When there is as much on the line as there is in America's legislative system, you will be surprised the shenanigans that ensue.

The business of the Congress at one point had to ban the practice of dueling. Not necessarily because it wasn't seen as a way to settle a dispute, but that it happened so often. Kentucky I think is the state that specifically disqualifies legislators based on participation in duels.


Robert's Rules of Order are often looked upon those with a darker sense of humor in the same light as the Third-man out rule in hockey. Ruins all the good fights.

Though Asia has been known for some doozies. I recall the use of either a chainsaw or fire axe at one point.

Ah! Taiwan was it.


South Koreans seem to prefer the legislative Sledgehammer.


I stand wholly corrected!

Don't limit your imagination.

All sorts of bizarre stuff is done to avoid triggering various parliamentary rules in legislative bodies.

For example: https://www.wamc.org/post/nys-assembly-always-session

It must have been precipitated by something, and I'm guessing someone barred the door. Also a strange move.

I blame aging legislators and the obesity epidemic.

Reminds of a particular Family Guy episode, as it is the only time I have heard the term:

Dennis Miller: Now I don't want to go on a rant here, but America's foreign policy makes about as much sense as Beowulf having sex with Robert Fulton at the first Battle of Antietam. I mean, when a neo-conservative defenestrates, it's like Raskalnikov filibuster deoxymonohydroxinate.

Peter: What the hell does "rant" mean?

There was a 2nd Battle of Antietam?

Is this term not widely known?

remember learning this term as the cause of some wars you learn about in grade school

It's not that widely known, but WW1 started with:


Is this a joke? The assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand was always the explanation for the start of WWI for me and everyone I've had the chance to speak, and there are at least two world wide known bands related to the event.

The wars OP referred to are much older ones, e.g. : "The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year 1618 which became the spark that started the Thirty Years' War."

It didn't. It started Thirty Year War and Hussite Wars.

OP edited his comment.

And here I thought maybe there was a new Defenestration in San Francisco


There’s a generation of nerds who learned this word from the glossary of the Apple ][ manual which included, ”defenestration: The act of throwing something or someone out of a window.“

I was in my kid's secondary school student support office one morning where one student was telling his friend about the time his dad threw him through a window. It wasn't a big, heavy conversation, just a recounting of it as something that was a bit of a novelty.

So I pipe up and say, "Hey, there's even a word for that!" which in a strange way left them somewhat pleased.

When I was in high school, we used to refer jokingly to "defenstration of an ecdysiast." I don't remember where we got it from, but it usually was brought up in connection to the highly exaggerated and dramatic way teens tend to tell a lengthy story about their day as if it was the most interesting story ever.

Tom Francis has been working on a Defenestration Trilogy. Video games that feature defenestration.


One of the greatest things on YouTube.

Defenestration: The Movie

Seven minutes of very short clips from Hollywood movies involving defenestration.


I wonder if that happened like in a violent fashion like when someone is tossed out of a bar by a bouncer or did it happen like in the cartoons when a prisoner walks slowly over a board into the sea from a pirate ship.

Probably the greatest Czech contribution to the European history and heritage.

Not "robot"?

Or Jaromir Jagr?

Or pilsner.

Easy to see the connection for this word when learning that the German word for "window" is "Fenster."

The French word for window is "fenêtre". And in French, the circumflex accent usually denotes a deletion of an 's', as in words such as "forêt", "hôpital", "île", "conquête".

Something I learned here - the English word window comes from an old Germanic word vendauga meaning "wind eye". German started using something like fenster vendauga (I don't know the actual phrase) to mean "a window with glass in it", from the Latin word fenestra. It later dropped the vendauga bit entirely.

English has now borrowed the word fenster from German, to mean the erosion of a new bit of rock exposing an older bit.

Yes, it all comes from the Latin "fenestram".

And it is quite cute how civilised throwing someone out of a window sounds once there is a sophisticated word for it :D

My fave word for something that sounds innocuous but is actually severe is: vivisection.

If you didn't look up, it almost sounds like something you might casually get at a spa.

"My friends spent the summer waterboarding at Guantanamo Bay."

Knowing more than one language can be really helpful to just grok these words quickly, even if you've never seen them before.

alive is vivente, viviente, vivant and vida in italian, spanish, french and portuguese

If you know what a dissection is, you can then connect the dots.

Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.

My favorite:

Et situs vi late in isset ab ernit

("dialect" form of "Es sieht aus wie Latein, ist es aber nicht", "It looks like latin, but it isn't")

Huh, you just enlightened me, I knew a guy named Fenstermacher and now I think I understand his name..

Also, it's fenêtre in French and finestra in Italian and Catalan.

While Portuguese and Spanish have completely different words. Somewhere the chain was broken.

Ventana and Window are root aligned (ventus, wind), fenestra in latin is "light opening", no idea how Portugal ended up with "door" for windows (Janus, janua, janela) ..

More impacts of "climate change" : )

to me defenestration is always sounded like a process that removes intestines but every time I mention it to someone who knows German they say fenster means window

Many languages have a similar word that gives you a clue about its meaning: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fenestra#Descendants

English is something of an exception, really!

Disembowelment you mean?



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