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67286.  Wed Apr 26, 2006 5:42 am Reply with quote

Did you know that defenestrate has an antonym? To ADFENESTRATE is “to sneak through a window.” The word was apparently coined by Koster in “The Prince.”

“Two hours before dawn members of Accion Dinamica adfenestrated themselves into the palace.”

Source: ‘The Penguin dictionary of curious and interesting words’ by George Stone Saussy III (Penguin 1986).

182341.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 7:32 am Reply with quote

One would have imagined the antonym would be fenestrate, but that merely means having windows or openings, which suggests that defenestration should be the act of removing windows or openings. Perhaps the original word should have been exfenestration then we could have had infenestration. Incidentally all the fenstration words are driving my spull chucker crazy.

182372.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:38 am Reply with quote

Why do we have the word 'window' when a lot* of other European languages have a word which is very much like the latin 'fenestre' eg, German 'Fenster' and French 'Fenetre'. Why is English different?

*when I say a lot, I mean the ones that I'm aware of, but meh.

182381.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 8:51 am Reply with quote

Maybe it's the same as the dog thing.

Or maybe it's to let wind in or something.

182407.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 9:28 am Reply with quote

Window, the Shorter Oxford tells me, is indeed to do with letting wind in, and derives from the Old Norse word vindauga (which I presume, although it doesn't say, means window), itself composed of the words vindr, meaning wind, and auga, meaning eye.

English isn't all that Latinate, on the whole, which I suppose is why we haven't got a derivative of fenestra (not fenestre, with apologies to swot for needless classical pedantry. I was going to let it go, but I'm only human), although neither is German, so not sure what's going on there. But our word seems definitely to be the Vikings' fault.

182431.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:34 am Reply with quote

Vindauga meant "window", yes.

Looking though the major European languages, we find that Dutch (venster), Esperanto (fenestro), French (fenêtre), German (Fenster), Italian (finestra), Romanian (fereastră), Swedish (fönster) and Welsh (ffenestr) all have words for "window" which derive from the Latin fenestra.

Conversely, the Danish (vindue) and Norwegian (vindu) words, like the English, clearly derive from the Norse.

The Spanish for "window" is ventana, which also appears to be connected to wind, while among languages which have unrelated words are Czech (okno), Greek (παράθυρο), Icelandic (gluggi), Polish (okno), Portuguese (janela), Russian (окно) and Serbian (prozor). The Slavic okno is derived from oko (eye), so why Serbian is different I know not; the Portuguese word looks a bit odd too.

I've no idea where the two major non Indo-European languages of Europe get their word for "window" from, but the Hungarian is ablak and the Finnish is ikkuna.

182469.  Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:07 pm Reply with quote

My dictionary informs me that we did have a word 'fenester' (meaning window) which is from the Old French 'fenestre', but it fell into disuse in about the 16th Century.

I remember from school that the act of climbing out of windows was a grave offence and was registered as 'defenestration' in the book used to record details of sinners, offences and suitable punishments. First-time offenders could expect half an hour of tedium which normally involved cleaning something whether it needed (or wanted) it or not.

Defenestration was a broad term used to describe the act of climbing in through, out of or of just being in the space which should, under normal circumstances, be occupied by, a window. This does not conform to the strict dictionary definition but there it is for the record.

182640.  Thu Jun 14, 2007 6:08 am Reply with quote

Ta for that. :) Most interesting.

183270.  Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:31 am Reply with quote

I think that there is a surgical procedure called 'defenestration' which is the cutting of a small window in the eardrum.

183276.  Sun Jun 17, 2007 9:53 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
I think that there is a surgical procedure called 'defenestration' which is the cutting of a small window in the eardrum.

This procedure is fenestration

gentleman glassmaker
600359.  Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:44 am Reply with quote

Perhaps we use the Norse for "window" as it was Bisop Biscop who built the first know windows ( since the Romans-who would have used the latin!), in 674 AD at his church in Monksweirmouth, Sunderland, near The National Glass Centre. He used glaziers from Lorraine, I believe.
the locals who were not educated would not have used the latin word for these strange coloured glass covers over the church apertures!


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