Saturday, October 15, 2005

New Favorite Word

For years, my favorite word has been "defenestrate" -- to throw something (or more apt, someone) out a window. From the Latin de- (off, or out of) and fenestra, window. Interesting is that the German word for window -- das Fenster comes from the Latin (at least I think -- haven't researched it and it could be a, a, uh, false cognate.) There is an old Germanic term -- Windlass from which English gets our window.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes you have gone forever without hearing/knowing a word, and then you hear it once and suddenly it is all over the place? When we moved to Germany, we took a book (such a hard decision, which books to take and which to put in storage) by M. Hunstberger (?), The Quintessential Dictionary, and that's where I first came across "defenestrate."

When I visited Prague with some friends, we got to visit the sites of the "Defenestration of Prague". There were at least two defenestrations of Prague, but this was the one that kicked off the Thirty Years War. As an aside, wherever you go in central Europa, you will find a monument to the event that kicked off the Thirty Years War. In this defenestration, a couple of governors were thrown out of a castle window -- they landed on some manure and survived. (The defenestratees of the first defenestration weren't so lucky -- I think five or six of them died.) What is it with Praguers (Pragians? Praguites?) and defenestrations?

Now vying for position of my new favorite word is "snarky" -- it's one of those words that you just know what it means even when you have no context. Supposedly it is a contraction of "snide" and "remark". (and I haven't forgotten Lewis Carroll's Snark, either.)

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