de·​fen·​es·​tra·​tion (ˌ)dē-ˌfe-nə-ˈstrā-shən How to pronounce defenestration (audio)
: a throwing of a person or thing out of a window
assassination by defenestration
: a usually swift dismissal or expulsion (as from a political party or office)
the defenestration of political leaders
the mass defenestration of middle managementJane Bryant Quinn
defenestrate transitive verb

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).

Examples of defenestration in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Remember the chaos last November when OpenAI’s board abruptly fired Altman, and he got hired by Microsoft for the blink of an eye before returning to OpenAI, as the board members behind his brief defenestration had to leave the building instead? David Meyer, Fortune, 29 May 2024 News of her death triggered an astonishing social uprising, with women burning their headscarves on the street and many voicing calls not simply for reform of the regime, but for a wholesale defenestration of the ruling clerics. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2024 For the first time since his defenestration from Fox, his name was once again on the lips of major national and international figures, the kind of notoriety on which Mr. Carlson has long thrived. Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2024 Sam Altman spoke to The Verge’s Alex Heath about his defenestration from OpenAI, and his now official rehiring. David Meyer, Fortune, 30 Nov. 2023 Such defenestrations are sad, even to those of us who thought this one necessary. Clifford S. Asness, WSJ, 12 Dec. 2023 From there, the party’s best hope was to turn to McHenry, who had been serving as speaker pro tem ever since McCarthy’s defenestration. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 20 Oct. 2023 And there has been all sorts of faux urgency about the need to elect a speaker so the House, leaderless since McCarthy’s defenestration, can get back to business. Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times, 17 Oct. 2023 Kevin McCarthy’s defenestration is characteristic of a party without any organizing principle beyond the former president. Noah Rothman, National Review, 4 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'defenestration.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


de- + Latin fenestra window

First Known Use

1619, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of defenestration was in 1619


Dictionary Entries Near defenestration

Cite this Entry

“Defenestration.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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