Defenestrate Means: To Throw Out of a Window

May 12, 2010 at 12:01 am 1 comment

Whenever someone tells me a computer frustration story, it usually ends with the phrase, “I almost threw it out the window.”

If you prefer more concise dialogue, then you’re probably reading the wrong website, but I can share a helpful word with you: defenestrate. It means, “to throw out of a window.” Used in a sentence, “I nearly defenestrated my computer.”

Today, this word is typically used for humor, but it has a very serious past. It comes from Latin, de means from and fenestra means window or opening. The word was coined around 1618, upon what is now known as the Second Defenestration of Prague.

The First Defenestration of Prague occurred on July 30, 1419 when a priest led his congregation on a protest through the streets of Prague. At the town hall, someone in a high window threw a rock at the priest. The people were enraged and stormed the town hall. They defenestrated the mayor, the town judge and thirteen members of the town council. Some of them died from the fall and those who survived were ignored.

The Second Defenestration of Prague occurred in 1618 and was critical to the start of the Thirty Years’ War. To make a long story short, some Bohemian aristocrats were upset when a Catholic was made King of Bohemia and ordered construction of some Protestant chapels to stop. The Catholics claimed the land was not owned by the Protestants, but the Protestants believed it violated their freedom of religious expression.

The Protestants bribed their way into the Prague Castle and threw two Regents and their secretary from a window. They all fell 30 meters (98 feet) into mud and manure.

From looking at a picture of the tower (above), I believe the height is considerably less than sources report. That said, the most surprising part is that they all survived. You see, defenestration does not imply death, although that is a likely result.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

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Sources: Dictionary.com, Defenestration, Defenestrations of Prague

Photo: DigitalExtropy (cc)

Entry filed under: Demystified, Geek. Tags: , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] word comes with a story, actually. According to Broken Secrets, the blog about interesting things you don’t know yet, “The First Defenestration of Prague […]

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