People's Top 10 Favorite Words

Goto next slide#1: Defenestration

Over the years, our editors have learned which words stand out as people's all-time favorites – generally because of what those words mean and how they sound. We hope you enjoy this selection.

Definition:

a throwing of a person or a thing out of a window; or a usually swift expulsion or dismissal

Example:

"If you were expecting Michael Steele to stay angry at Republicans over his defenestration from the [Republican National Committee], you were wrong. In the weeks after he lost the job, Steele has appeared on MSNBC and Fox News..." – David Weigel, Slate.com, Jan 31, 2011

About the word:

Defenestration is familiar to students of history, many of whom are charmed to learn that the Defenestration of Prague in 1618 marked the start of one phase of the Thirty Years' War.

In that defenestration, three Roman Catholic representatives of the Hapsburg rulers were thrown from the window of the Council Room at Prague Castle by angry Protestant Bohemians. The Catholics survived their fall, possibly because they landed on manure.

Defenestration comes from Latin (de- means "from; down, away;" and fenestra means "window"). The word first appeared in English in 1620.

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