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 Just announcing that a writer’s book sales were too low to warrant inclusion on either chain’s shelves would trigger that writer’s immediate defenestration by most publishers, or, if the writer had a very supportive editor, a career reboot under a pen name. Cory Doctorow, WIRED, 7 Sep. 2023 In the days after Alberta’s defenestration of Licht, followup stories have sought to figure out what went wrong and what’s next. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 6 June 2023 Fox News’s defenestration of Tucker Carlson has prompted the usual round of prognostications from the professionally savvy observers of the political media, with a primary focus on what could possibly prompt the network’s dismissal of their mewling cash cow. Ana Marie Cox, The New Republic, 5 May 2023 But even with the defenestration of the hammer brigade, people continued to yell at Matt Yglesias, who continued to be unable to block them. Sarah Jeong, The Verge, 2 May 2023 What did her defenestration accomplish? Helen Lewis, The Atlantic, 3 Oct. 2022 In the six days since her defenestration from the leadership ranks of the Republican Party, Liz Cheney — the congresswoman from Wyoming, right-wing Republican, daughter of the former vice president and now leader of the anti-Trump party opposition — has been hard to ignore. New York Times, 18 May 2021 The defenestration of Boris Johnson had little to do with morality. Alex Story, National Review, 13 July 2022 There is a risk of course that the G7 may over-reach and the defenestration of the G20 will lead to an inevitable decoupling of global governance. Vasuki Shastry, Forbes, 24 June 2022 See More

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 3 Oct. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!