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Why Does English Have a Word Meaning “To Throw Someone Out of a Window”?

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A South Carolina teen calls to ask why the English language has a word meaning “to throw someone out of a window,” but no word for “the day after tomorrow.” The word defenestrate, from Latin fenestra, “window,” was coined in the 17th century specifically to refer to the so-called Defenestration of Prague in May 1618, when Catholic officials and a secretary were tossed out the window of the castle there, sparking the Thirty Years’ War. Latin fenestra is also the source of the French word for “window,” fenêtre, and German Kirchenfenster, literally “church window,” used to denote what English-speaking wine lovers call the long, spindly legs of a glass of wine. English does have a word for “the day after tomorrow,” although it’s rarely used. It’s overmorrow. This is part of a complete episode.

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