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See also: défenestration



A 17th-century woodcut by Matthäus Merian the Elder depicting the Second Defenestration of Prague which occurred on 23 May 1618. Two Roman Catholic regents of Ferdinand II, the Holy Roman Emperor, and their secretary were thrown out of a third-floor window by Protestant subjects who accused them of suppressing their rights. The men survived the fall, but the incident precipitated the Thirty Years’ War. The woodcut was published in Johann Philipp Abelin’s Theatrum Europaeum (3rd ed., 1662).

From New Latin defenestratio, from (from; out) + fenestra (window) + -atio (suffix indicating an action or process); compare Middle French défenestrer (modern French défenestrer), défenestration, German Fenstersturz. The verb defenestrate was formed later.



defenestration (countable and uncountable, plural defenestrations)

  1. The act of throwing something or someone out of a window. [from c. 17th c.]
    • 1905, Rossiter Johnson, editor, The Great Events by Famous Historians; a Comprehensive and Readable Account of the World’s History, [], volume XI (A.D. 1609–1660), New York, N.Y.: National Alumni, OCLC 634668, pages 62–75:
      The "Defenestration" at Prague (A.D. 1618). [...] The imperial Austrian Councillors are thrown out of the window of the castle of Hradschin by the enraged Bohemian Deputies [...]
    • 1996, Adrian [G. V.] Hyde-Price, “East Central Europe: A Brief History”, in The International Politics of East Central Europe, Manchester; New York, N.Y.: Manchester University Press, →ISBN, footnote 41, page 40:
      The Third Defenestration of Prague occurred on 10 March 1948. During the closing stages of the communist takeover in Czechoslovakia, Jan Masaryk, the popular foreign minister and son of Tomáš Masaryk, fell – or more likely was pushed – out of a window.
    • 2004, Paul Dehn Carleton, “Notes and References”, in Concepts: A ProtoTheist Quest for Science-minded Skeptics of Catholic, and Other Christian, Jewish & Muslim Backgrounds, Pontiac, Mich.: Carleton House, →ISBN, footnote 15, page 359:
      On September 11, 2001 when NYC's Twin Towers were impacted [...] some occupants trapped above the inferno facing certain death instead jumped from windows to their certain death (self defenestration).
  2. (Britain) The high-profile removal of a person from an organization.
    • 2005 September 4, The Sunday Times, London:
      Be that as it may, his defenestration was coldly abrupt, and in his place, the Football Association resurrected a veteran manager and former England star in Joe Mercer for seven games.
  3. (computing, humorous) The act of removing the Microsoft Windows operating system from a computer in order to install an alternative one.
    • 1998 November 1, “Dorian Bliss”, “He’s dead, Jim”, in, Usenet[1], message-ID <>:
      Defenestration might be an option too. May I recommend Linux?
    • 1999 November 6, Graham Lea, “Stunned MS vows to fight on for freedom: ‘Integrity, partnership, quality … giving’ – (takes out onion)”, in The Register[2], archived from the original on 19 August 2014:
      It's defenestration day in Redmond today. A clearly stunned Microsoft did what it could to pretend that Judge Jackson's findings of fact were "just one step", as [Bill] Gates put said in the prepared statement that he read at a press conference last night, but it was hopeless.
    • 2002, John Kilburn, Palm Programming in Basic, Berkeley, Calif.: Apress, →ISBN, page 392:
      No defenestration here. Ask questions about all aspects of Windows programming, get help on Microsoft technologies covered in Apress books, or provide feedback on any Apress Windows book.
    • 2004 February 12, Paul Murphy, “What does Linux cost?”, in LinuxInsider: Linux News & Information from around the World[3], archived from the original on 11 March 2016:
      What's needed is defenestration – throwing out the Windows mindset along with Microsoft's licenses and software – but that's not as simple as changing a boot CD or even migrating a whole raft of servers. What's involved is fundamental change both in how IT operates and in what it does.
    • 2005 December 1, D. Braue; P. Gray; L. Colquhoun; J.-V. Douglas, “Leaders of the pack”, in MIS Asia: Managing Information Strategies[4], archived from the original on 7 October 2007:
      Traditionally, the verb defenestrate means to throw out of a window. But as Australian companies take their first timid steps towards installing non-proprietary software on corporate desktops, defenestration is starting to be linked to the throwing out of Windows software.

Usage notes[edit]

Defenestration (sense 1) was historically committed as an act of political dissent, as with the Defenestrations of Prague.

Related terms[edit]


Further reading[edit]