What It Means
Defenestration originally meant “a throwing of a person or thing out of a window.” Today, it’s more often used for “a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office).”
// Michael’s annoyance at his alarm clock’s persistent drone led to its sudden defenestration from his eighth-floor bedroom.
“The drama would culminate in [Margaret Thatcher’s] … defenestration….” — Jeremy Cliffe, The New Statesman, 6 Jan. 2021
Did You Know?
These days defenestration—from the Latin fenestra, meaning “window”—is often used to describe the forceful removal of someone from public office or from some other advantageous position. History’s most famous defenestration, however, was one in which the tossing out the window was quite literal. On May 23, 1618, two imperial regents were found guilty of violating certain guarantees of religious freedom and were thrown out the window of Prague Castle. The men survived the 50-foot tumble into the moat, but the incident marked the beginning of the Bohemian resistance to Hapsburg rule that eventually led to the Thirty Years’ War and came to be known as the Defenestration of Prague (it was the third such historical defenestration in Prague, but the first known to be referred to as such by English speakers).
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