Over at the excellent Lowering the Bar there is a discussion on throwing alligators through windows:-

Let’s apply that definition to our infenestrated alligator.

Absolutely, but first let’s talk about “infenestrated.” This is a great word, even though it isn’t a word. As Christopher obviously knows, the word “defenestrated” does exist; “defenestration” is the act of throwing somebody out of a window. And we absolutely need a word for that. This one is almost always associated with the “Defenestration of Prague” in 1618, when some Protestants threw three Catholic lords out of a window and thus kicked off the Thirty Years’ War. Fenestra is Latin for “window.” My first reaction was that the word should be “exfenestrate,” not “defenestrate,” because the prefix de- usually means to remove, reverse, or turn away (like “defend” or “delegate”), whereas I think of ex- for expelling something (like Catholic lords out of a window). But de- can also mean “down,” as in “descend” or “depress,” and I suppose the downward sense is the most important one here. It would then make sense that there is no word for throwing somebody back up into a window. (“Fenestrate” is a word, but that means “to create windows in” something.) Here the alligator didn’t change elevation (materially), and the important issue is that it went in the window. So although “infenestrate” is not in the OED, it should be.

As the writer concludes (and also according to the answer here states, defenestration is the correct formation for throwing someone or something out of a window.

But is infenestration right for throwing something into a window? Or would some other prefix be preferable?

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    The point of the article is there is is no word for throwing something in a window. The author thinks that the word infenestration should be adopted, but even he says it's just his opinion. Feb 16, 2016 at 14:29
  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/46336/14666
    – Kris
    Feb 16, 2016 at 15:14
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    The post cited above has a mention in the comments" "the physical reality is that defenestration will always be easier and more reliable than the opposite maneuver, but I think we could coin infenestrate, as in: I didn't intend to infenestrate the baseball, but Dad still docked my allowance to pay for the repair. – Caleb Oct 30 '11 at 1:02" english.stackexchange.com/questions/46336/…
    – Kris
    Feb 16, 2016 at 15:17
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    I don't think there's any need to think of a prefix. In principle plain fenestrate is a rare word which according to OED means To furnish (a bandage) with small holes or openings. But hardly anyone would know that specific sense, even though many people would know defenestrate (and would thus at least realize the unprefixed version had something to do with windows, even it they didn't know French or Latin). So they could reasonably suppose it's the same basic mechanism as, for example, to channel something (to pass/move it through a channel). Feb 16, 2016 at 17:36
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    Isn't this called innuendo?
    – JEL
    Feb 16, 2016 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


The suggestion of 'to infenestrate' ('infenestration', etc.) is based on a surprising terminological confusion, given Underhill's obviously finegrained understanding of the meaning of 'de-' in the original coinage. That is, 'de-' was used in the sense of 'down from' for the original coinage of 'defenestration', although the definition has since become muddled by a persistent confusion with 'out of'. Hence, Underhill's suppositional analysis of 'defenestration' is pretty much spot on:

But de- can also mean “down,” as in “descend” or “depress,” and I suppose the downward sense is the most important one here.

(From Lowering the Bar, 'Is an Alligator a “Deadly Weapon”?', by Kevin Underhill. Emphasis mine.)

However, for an associated term with a parallel or opposite kinetic trajectory, it would've been more pertinent for Underhill to observe that modern and contemporary uses of 'defenestrate' do suggest the original coinage is now a misnomer...the more accurate term, in that it would more closely conform to the intended meaning, is perfenestrate, that is, the verb meaning

to throw something or somebody through a window.

Although from my lowly perspective any flinging of alligators whatsoever is, indeed, an uphill battle, the case cited by Underhill emphasizes throwing through. The alligator was thrown through the drive-up window, and it was passage through the window that resulted in the particular charge of assault with a deadly weapon. If the alligator had snagged on the window of the vehicle in passage and fallen back into the vehicle, or if the thrower had failed to reach his objective by, for example, bouncing the alligator off the establishment and back into the vehicle, or onto the drive-through lane, the charge would of necessity have been attempted assault with a deadly weapon (supposing such an offense were chargeable in Florida).

So, the alligator in question went through not one, but two windows: the window of the vehicle and the drive-up window. Its trajectory upward or downward in passage is not "the most important [sense] here". Rather, the passage through (both) windows is the salient sense. In fact, the relative positions of the vehicle and drive-up windows are not detailed in any of the sources given; the alligator may have been thrown down through or up through the vehicle's window, and may subsequently, for all we know, have traveled down through or up through the drive-up window. Where the alligator landed after its passage through the windows, on a counter or on the floor, is also unspecified.

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    Your careful language in distinguishing a drive-up window from a drive-through window leads me to wonder whether driving through the latter (presumably a traffic offence at the least) could be mitigated by a plea that the driver merely took the instructions too literally. Feb 17, 2016 at 23:51

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