Normally, when you place the "de" prefix on a word, it becomes the opposite. This does not appear to be the case with "fenestrated" and "defenestrated". Why do the two words, which appear so similar, have meanings that are so different?

Google defines "fenestrated" as:

fenestrated ˈfɛnəˌstreɪtɪd,fɪˈnɛstreɪtɪd

  1. Provided with a window or windows. "the fenestrated heights of nearby buildings"

  2. Having perforations, apertures, or transparent areas. "the capillaries have a fenestrated epithelium"

Google defines "defenestrated as:

defenestrate diːˈfɛnɪstreɪt

  1. Throw (someone) out of a window. "she had made up her mind that the woman had been defenestrated, although the official verdict had been suicide"

  2. Remove or dismiss (someone) from a position of power or authority. "the overwhelming view is that he should be defenestrated before the next election"

  • First post, so please tell me if I did anything incorrectly, also if there are better tags for this sort of this are welcome. – Alexander Craggs Oct 13 '14 at 18:40
  • Related:english.stackexchange.com/questions/188528/… – user66974 Oct 13 '14 at 18:44
  • @Josh61 Ah, didn't find that in googling, probably a clone of that question, should I delete this one? – Alexander Craggs Oct 13 '14 at 18:47

The de- prefix can mean a reversal, like in cult deprogramming. If this were the only thing the de- prefix ever meant, then I'd agree that defenestration should mean the act of removing windows.

But de- can also mean "from" or "down from", like in descend or deplane.

  • In fact, the primary definition of Latin de is down from. – Anonym Oct 13 '14 at 19:32

Defenestration/to defenestrate is formed from Latin de fenestra out of the window/ down from the window. If I remember right an historical event in Prague was called the Defenestration of Prague (1618). Fenestrate is likewise derived from Latin fenestra meaning to provide with windows.


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