Lovesome words and politics


Why, why, why didn't I download that dictionary app when I had the chance?

Defenestration is my new best word friend forever (BWFF) or until a smarter looking one comes along.


First, it has five syllables, which makes it what is known in etymological circles as a “big” word. Big words are not only a sign of intelligence but can also be used to flummox your friends. Because no one wants to admit that they don’t know the meaning of a big word. Like, really.


Here’s how flummoxing works:


You: I’m so tired!


Your friend: Why? What did you do on the weekend?


You: I was reading a book without a proper ending and I got so riled up, I defenestrated it. It felt so good that I went through the house and defenestrated things for hours. How about you? Did you do any defenestrating over the weekend?


Your friend: Uh…well…yeah, actually…oh, I think I have a message on my phone. Excuse me for a minute.


At this point, your friend will pretend to be checking his or her phone for messages but actually will be looking the word up. But only if the now former friend remembered to download the dictionary app. (Did I mention that flummox is French for “confuse and lose friends”?)


Flummoxing aside, I love the word for the story behind it. The Thirty Years’ War in Europe started in 1618 when some Bohemian nobles threw two government officials and their secretary out of a window to protest the violation of their religious rights. Throwing people out of windows was apparently a common pastime of Bohemians of that day, but up until then, no one knew quite the right word to express it.  The three human projectiles that set off the war landed on a pile of rubbish, and so escaped, bruised and smelling of rotten cabbage, but alive. Thankfully, video cameras had not been invented back then; otherwise, defenestration would become a meme like planking, and people who don’t know big words would be defenestrating all over the place.

Elections: windows of opportunity to practice defenestration

This pane-ful act gave birth to the word we now know as defenestration, which means “to throw out of a window.”  It combines the prefix de-, which gives the meaning of something removed or put away, with the Latin word for window, fenestra.


You see how lovesome the word is. Its story reminds me that there are a number of government officials that I would like to defenestrate, particularly those who have failed to compromise and do what’s right for the country, instead of licking the boots of lobbyists and big money contributors. Election time is our window of opportunity, people. Rise up and defenestrate.









20 thoughts on “Lovesome words and politics

  1. Ah, so taking Latin in junior high DID have some purpose, after all! That’s where I learned the meaning of “defenestration.” (And “loquacious.” But that’s another story).

    Odd how we respond to language. Defenestration leaves me cold because the sound of the word doesn’t evoke throwing. I want a word with an appealing sound, like “thud,” but polysyllabic. Flummox, though, fits the bill nicely. To me, it sounds like what it is.

    Now we need to invent a word for the phenomenon of looking things up on iphone apps and then pretending we knew them all along. Any ideas? :I-faking? app-posturing?

    • See how smart you are; you’ve known the meaning since high school. For me, big words are like those posh English accents. I’m a sucker for them.

      I love “app-posturing.” Please submit it to the OED. Then all your bloggy friends can start using it in their blogs so there will be lots of citations to use. We will all live on in the OED!

  2. I have a vague memory that in past times (in the UK I think) the powers that be introduced a tax on windows and that people all over the land (or at least those lucky enough to live in big houses) bricked in some of thier windows to avoid paying the tax. Now maybe raising revenue wasn’t the main concern of the powers that be – perhaps they were worried they might be defenestrated. I like your new header and the snow. Very festive.

    • Maybe they were afraid of the Bohemian influence.

      I’m glad you like the new look. I like the snow, too. If it gets annoying, I’ll turn it off. The WordPress website said it will snow like that until January 4th. So I may have a lot of shoveling to do. For the snow….

    • Kate, I think we can be good friends, so I wrote you this rap called “Yo, Politicians”:

      My name is Kate,
      I am your fate,
      You don’t administrate,
      You don’t cooperate,
      I will decapitate,
      I will defenestrate
      I’ll be your fate,
      My name is Kate.

      If you are going to sing this on YouTube, you must wear baggy jeans, a sleeveless T-shirt, a baseball cap with the brim turned sideways, and lots of bling.

  3. Ah this has been one of my favourite words for a while, right up there with affectation, meticulous, vociferous and auspicious. I would consider myself somewhat of a logophile :>

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