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November 8, 2003 by AK

Lynn S. and the White Mountain

I must admit I had known the word defenestration for a few weeks before Lynn mentioned it, having learnt the Russian version of it (defenestratsiya) completely by chance. There is only one expression where I had encountered this word before the Obscure Words Meme started infecting Blogovia, but one I can’t help adoring:

The Second Prague Defenestration.

I’ll leave the details to Google, but the throwing of two Imperial councillors out of the Hradcany council room’s windows in 1618 “precipitated” the Thirty Years’ War, during the early stages of which the Czechs lost the battle of the White Mountain and their independence. (Long Latin words sound too arrogant in Russian, so the Hradcany incident is known simply as the “second Prague throwing out of the windows”. i wonder how it works out in Czech.) The first Prague defenestration occured just before the Hussite wars, which it likewise “precipitated”.

Yes, sci-fi writers enjoy teasing the public with dictionary finds: see e.g. Arthur C. Clarke. The Defenestration of Ermintrude Inch.


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