AskDefine | Define defenestrate

Dictionary Definition

defenestrate v : throw through or out of the window; "The rebels stormed the palace and defenestrated the President"

User Contributed Dictionary



, from de-, + fenestra.


  • /dəˈfɛnɪstɹeɪt/


  1. To eject or throw (someone or something) from a window.
    • "I defenestrated a clock to see if time flies"
      Lane Smith, quoted in "Who's News", Time for Kids, September 25, 1998
  2. In the context of "computing|jocular|slang": To stop using the Windows operating system.



eject from a window

See also



Extensive Definition

For the heavy metal band, see Defenestration (band).
Defenestration, from the Latin de (from; out of) and fenestra (window or opening), is the act of throwing someone or something out of a window. The term was coined around the time of an incident in Prague Castle in the year of 1618.

Notable Defenestrations in history

Historically, the word defenestration was used to refer to an act of political dissent. Notably, the Defenestrations of Prague in 1419 and 1618 helped to trigger prolonged conflict within Bohemia and beyond. It is said that some Catholics ascribed the survival of those defenestrated at Prague Castle in 1618 to divine intervention, while it is said that some Protestants claimed that it was due to their landing in a large pile of manure.
Other notable events in Prague's history include the defenestration of the Old-Town portreeve along with the bodies of seven murdered New-Town aldermen in 1483, and the death in 1948 of politician Jan Masaryk, whose body was found in the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry, below his bathroom window. A 2004 police investigation into his death concluded that, contrary to the initial ruling, he did not commit suicide, but was defenestrated by his opponents.
  • In the book of 2 Kings in the Bible, Jezebel is defenestrated by her own servants at the urging of Jehu.
  • It has been suggested by several chronicles (notably the Annals of Westhide Abbey) that King John killed his nephew, Arthur of Brittany, by throwing him from a window in the castle at Rouen, France, in 1203.
  • In 1383, Bishop Dom Martinho was defenestrated by the citizens of Lisbon, having been suspected of conspiring with the enemy when Lisbon was besieged by the Castilians.
  • In 1378 the crafts and their leader Wouter van der Leyden occupied the Leuven city hall. They took over the Leuven government. Most of the patricians left the city and fled to Aarschot. After negotiations between the parties, they agreed to share the government. The patricians did not accept this easily, as they lost their absolute power. Trying to turn the tide, they had Wouter van der Leyden assassinated in Brussels. The crafts wanted revenge. They handed over the patrician to a furious crowd. The crowd stormed the city hall and threw the patricians out of the window. At least 15 patricians were killed during this defenestration of Leuven.
  • On April 26, 1478, after the failure of the "Pazzi conspiracy" to murder the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo de' Medici, Jacopo de' Pazzi was defenestrated.
  • In 1572, French King Charles IX's friend, the Huguenot leader Gaspard de Coligny, was killed in accordance with the wishes of Charles' mother, Catherine de' Medici. Charles had allegedly said "then kill them all that no man be left to reproach me." Thousands of Protestants were killed in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre after soldiers attacked Coligny in his house, stabbed him, and threw him out the window.
  • On the morning of December 1, 1640 in Lisbon, a group of supporters of the Duke of Bragança party found Miguel de Vasconcelos, the hated Portuguese Secretary of State of the Habsburg Philip III, hidden in a closet, killed him and defenestrated him. His corpse was left to the public outrage.
  • The Revolutions of 1848 led to unrest in the German states. When an agitated crowd forced their way into the town hall in Cologne on March 3, two city councillors panicked and jumped out of the window; one of them broke both his legs. The event went down in the city’s history as the "Cologne Defenestration".
  • On June 11. 1903 a group of Serbian army officers murdered and defenestrated King Aleksandar and Queen Draga.
  • Andy Orr, star of Casanova Goes A Rollin', frequently speaks of his uncle's defenestration.
  • In 1941, mafia informant Abe "Kid Twist" Reles fell to his death from a window on the sixth floor of the Half Moon Hotel on Coney Island, on the eve of his scheduled testimony. The angle of trajectory suggests that he was defenestrated rather than trying to flee.
  • On March 10 1948 the Czechoslovakian minister of foreign affairs Jan Masaryk was found dead, dressed in his pajamas, in the courtyard of the Foreign Ministry below his bathroom window. The initial 'investigation' stated that he committed suicide by jumping out of the window, although it is now commonly believed that he was murdered by the ascendant Communists.
  • Shortly before midnight on December 15 1969 the Italian anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli was seen to fall to his death from a fourth floor window of the Milan police station.
  • On March 2 2007 Russian investigative journalist Ivan Safronov, who was researching the Kremlin's covert arms deals, fell to his death from a fifth floor window. Friends and colleagues discount suicide as a reason and an investigation was opened looking into possible "incitement to suicide".
  • Rap mogul Suge Knight is rumored to have signed rapper Vanilla Ice to a contract by threatening him with defenestration.

Cultural responses to defenestration

  • In 18th century works of the Marquis de Sade, defenestrations are a common (fictional) event. They are less gruesome than many of the atrocities in his works, but they are typically lethal.
  • In 1997, Brian Goggin and a team of artists create an absurdist site-specific art installation on two sides of an empty four-story building at the corner of Sixth and Howard Streets in San Francisco entitled "Defenestration", which depicted seemingly animated furniture apparently leaping out the windows and off the parapet.
  • In the James Thurber short story "The Greatest Man In the World", Jacky Smurch, the story's protagonist, is thrown out of a window by dignitaries that had gathered to figure out what to do with such an ill-behaved national hero.
  • In the movie Braveheart, the English king Longshanks throws his son's homosexual lover out the window, after the latter gave unsolicited military advice.
  • The West Philadelphia based anarchist paper The Defenestrator draws its name from the defenestrations of Prague.
  • The comic series Hitman by Garth Ennis features a Terminator parody character named the Defenestrator, who defeats criminals by tossing them through a window frame that he carries with him, as part of the super group Section 8.
  • In the movie The Departed, Martin Sheen's character, Captain Queenan, is tossed from a vacant building in Boston by members of the Irish Mob
  • In the movie Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Emperor Palpatine throws Mace Windu out of a window using Sith lightning.
  • In the 12th episode of TV series Dark Angel, starring Jessica Alba, titled Art Attack, one of the gang members asks Max, Original Cindy and the guy who, apparently, sold the gang a forged painting if they know the meaning of the word defenestration. Receiving a negative response, he shows them the meaning of the word by "defenestrating"(?) the seller. After this, the word keeps poping up in conversation as they search for the original painting.
  • In the 7th episode of the TV series The Spectacular Spider-Man (TV series), Spider-Man defines the defenestration for the audience as he is thrown out of a window in the beginning of the episode, explaining his dislike for the word.

Scientific studies

In 1942 safety pioneer Hugh De Haven published the classic Mechanical analysis of survival in falls from heights of fifty to one hundred and fifty feet . De Haven's work on survival in defenestrations was instrumental in the development of the seat belt.


defenestrate in German: Defenestration
defenestrate in Estonian: Defenestratsioon
defenestrate in Spanish: Defenestración
defenestrate in French: Défenestration
defenestrate in Italian: Defenestrazione
defenestrate in Hungarian: Defenesztráció
defenestrate in Norwegian: Defenestrasjon
defenestrate in Norwegian Nynorsk: Defenestrasjon
defenestrate in Polish: Defenestracja (czynność)
defenestrate in Portuguese: Defenestração
defenestrate in Slovak: Defenestrácia
defenestrate in Slovenian: Defenestracija
defenestrate in Finnish: Defenestraatio
defenestrate in Swedish: Defenestration
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