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The Greatest Word in the English Language

By Johnny Apocalypse
February 1, 2012

Wikipedia has to be the greatest website on Earth. Yes, I know it’s inaccurate, and yes, it can be edited by anyone to say anything, but overall I’ve found it to be a good resource. More than anything, I’ve found it to be a fantastic tool for wasting time.

So earlier today I was poking around on Wikipedia in my typical haphazard fashion. I search the site for the subject I’m interested in, and while I’m reading, I’ll find a link to another Wikipedia page that I want and open it in another tab. Start flipping back and forth between two pages, read a little here, a little there, and find more links to more pages. New tab, new tab, new tab.

I’ve recently decided that these links can in fact be troublesome. They make it very hard to complete a single article without opening more articles than you actually care to read, and if you don’t watch yourself you’ll easily have far too many articles open then you’ll actually have time to finish. It’s not uncommon for me to get seven or eight articles opened by the time I’ve finished reading what I originally came to the site for, and my record so far has been thirty two articles open at once. Makes me think that I have ADD.

After opening my customary multiple articles and browsing them little by little, I came upon a link to a word that I’d never seen before. Lucky for me, the word happens to be listed as a blue link. Right click, open in new tab. I briefly scanned the definition of the word, and what happened next is something of a miracle. I read the entire article without opening a single new page.

I had just found the greatest word ever created. A simple word to describe a simple, occasionally violent act that really doesn’t need a word all of it’s own.


Defenestration is the act of throwing someone, or something, out a window.

Out the Window!
You've been defenestrated, fool!

How awesome is that? All this time, I’ve been saying things like “that guy got thrown out a window” or “I tossed the cigarette butt out the car window” or “if you touch my coffee again I’ll throw your ass out a window!” But I could have been using “defenestration” all this time.

“I defenestrated some trash.”

“That asshole got defenestrated!”

Now using it for objects seems ill-suited, even though “something” is in the definition. I feel this word is best used for people being hurled out a window. At full force. Preferably a second story window or higher.

Of course, this doesn’t happen too often in the real word, but it happens in just about every action movie ever made. Take, for example, Beverly Hills Cop. Eddie Murphy is poking around where he doesn’t belong, so some goons grab him up and hurl him through some glass. Sadly it’s at ground level, and there was a door right next to the window, so it’s kind of a cheesy defenestration. Plus Eddie Murphy is the good guy, he’s the one who should be tossing people through windows.

My favorite movie defenestration of all time has to be Gremlins. This little old lady who has trouble getting up and down the stairs has one of those motorized chairs that take people up and down the stairs (where the hell is the Wikipedia article with the word for that gadget?) The gremlins rewire her chair for super-sonic speeds, and the next time she uses it, it launches her out of her second story window. This is a particularly great defenestration, because this woman really gets some air time before landing in a tree.

Okay, I’m using the word a little too much for one article. But think about the fact that there is a word for such an undertaking. We don’t have a word for throwing someone off a skyscraper. We don’t have a term for breaking a beer bottle over someone’s head. All sorts of acts don’t have their own names. Crushing pennies on a train track, throwing crabapples at passing cars, shitting in a storm drain. But throwing someone out a window? How did that get it’s very own word?

“Hey Joe, did you see Phil throw his kid out the window?”

“Yeah, that was something. Tossed him right out the window.”

“You know, saying ‘thrown through the window’ could really get to be a mouthful after a while. What say we make up a word for that?”

“Yeah? What did you have in mind?”

“Hmm… How about ‘defenestration’?”

“I love it! ‘Phil defenestrated his kid!’ Perfect! Think we should make up words for other random and unlikely acts?”

“Nah, I’m bored. Let’s go get hammered.”

And I have to admit, the craziest part of this whole thing is that I’ve literally thought about performing such an act myself. Not on any particular person or object, but just in general. I’ll be watching an action movie with some friends, a bad guy will get launched through a pane of glass, and I’ll say something like “you know, if I ever get into another fight, I want to toss someone out a window.”

“Johnny, you have lots of silly action-movie things you want to do if you ever get into another fight. Grab the back of some guy’s head and plow his face into a table, perform a perfect boxing duck-and-left-hook.”

“Yeah, but this is my thought for the moment. Tossing someone through a window. Definitely the way to go.”

So now I’ll actually have the proper term at hand if/when the time comes. Of course, with my lack of fighting prowess, it’s far more likely that I’ll be the one getting thrown. From a twentieth story window.

“Son of a bitch, I’ve just been defenestrated!”


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