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I am speaking of a barn or log cabin which has a window opening but no glass. Neither "window" nor "opening" seem quite right.

A fire blocked the cabin's only door. Fortunately, I squeezed through the _______ and escaped to safety.

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11 Answers 11

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Actually, a window ("wind-eye") was originally an unglazed opening to let in light and air ("wind"). In modern English it is still possible to use "window" for an opening without glass.

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  • and 'window' ("wind-eye") is a Norse version of the Latin 'vent[us]' ("wind").
    – AmI
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 19:01
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    @Aml The first part of ON vindaugr is cognate with both English wind and Latin ventus, as well as Irish fead ‘whistle’, Greek ἄημι ‘blow, breathe’, Sanskrit वात vā́ta ‘wind’, Hittite huwanza ‘wind’, etc., all from the PIE root *h₂u̯eh₁- ‘blow’. But it is not “a Norse version” of the Latin—that implies borrowing or inheritance, which is not the case here. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:49
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It's just called a window. If for some reason you really need to call attention to the fact that it doesn't have glass in it, you could call it an unglazed window.

Unglazed

  1. having no glass fitted
    an unglazed circular skylight

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/us/dictionary/english/unglazed

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    Of course you're correct, but I think most people would wonder what a window has to do with a "doughnut" (a glazed doughnut). Glazing related to window glass, is just not very common (my opinion). I would rather refer to it as an "opened window". It just happens that this window may always be open (since it has no glazing). The fact that it is opened because it doesn't have (and hasn't ever had) any glass, or because the glass was positioned out of the way, or it wasn't blocked by something else like shutters for example, is mostly irrelevant... it is just opened. --> Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 23:29
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    @Kevin Logically, it may be open, but it can never be opened. It is not possible to open something that was never closed. Even so, open very heavily implies that there is a pane, and glazing windows is not that uncommon. Definitely more risk of misunderstanding if you call it an open window than if you call it an unglazed window. Image-Googling “open window” gives hundreds of pictures of glazed, paned windows left open, but no glassless ones; “unglazed window” gives lots of windows with no glass and only a few with some kind of pane. Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:56
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    @KevinFegan "single/double/triple glazing" or "single/double/triple glazed windows" is a common way to refer to "insulated glass" (or non-insulated glass in the case of single glazing).
    – MT0
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 11:58
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    @KevinFegan I can't comment on the US but, in the UK, everybody knows that "glazing" is glass in windows, though we'd refer to your "glazed doughnut" as an "iced doughnut". Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 12:53
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    In the US I think many homeowners, at least, would understand the term in context. The term for people who put glass in windows is still glaziers, which is a rarer word but I think doesn't put most folks in mind of donuts. (@DavidRicherby In my part of the US, where we have a holiday just for donuts—admittedly borrowed from the Polish—in addition to National Doughnut Day, an iced doughnut is actually something entirely different from a glazed one...which might possibly be yet distinguished from one that is frosted.)
    – 1006a
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 14:51
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As others have said you could just use the word window. If you want to emphasise that there is not glass pane in it, I would use frame or window frame.

the frame of a window that receives and holds the sashes or casements

According to Merriam Webster

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    To me a "window frame" is the wooden/UPVC/aluminium part that holds the glass, rather than the opening/space/gap/whatever itself.
    – pbhj
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 0:10
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    "Window frame" would probably work for the OP's intended use, though: "I squeezed through the window frame and escaped to safety."
    – chepner
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 14:51
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    @pbhj True—but assuming that it’s an actual window (i.e., that it does have some kind of framing and isn’t just a hole in the wall with exposed brick ends), how would you squeeze through the window without squeezing through the frame? Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:51
  • "I squeezed through the open window frame" seems about right.
    – Phil H
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 7:16
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Neither "window" nor "opening" seem quite right.

However, both "window" and "opening" when used together do.

A fire blocked the cabin's only door. Fortunately, I squeezed through the window opening and escaped to safety.

Construction sites and references I located use the window-modified term "opening" for the location where a gap for a window opening will be framed, cut, and installed.

Thereafter, the finished assembly continues to be referenced as a "window" which can be opened, closed, cleaned, broken, repaired, etc.

Given that the construction industry has a bias against incomplete structures, the term window refers more to the intended function of the feature rather than the actual construction and architectural treatment of it.

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    This is the best answer in my opinion. "Window opening" seems clear and unambiguous.
    – Clonkex
    Commented Oct 18, 2017 at 3:03
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I would suggest glassless window but "window" does not, in itself, imply the presence of glass and is a correct description for :

an opening in a wall, door, roof or vehicle that allows the passage of light, sound, and/or air.

The origin is Middle English from the Norse vindauga : vindr ‘wind’ + auga ‘eye’. 'Window' replaced the Old English eagþyrl, which literally means 'eye-hole,' and 'eagduru' 'eye-door'. The word 'window' was first used in the 13th century.

There is also aperture

an opening, hole, or gap

Colloquially, 'aperture' would mean a small opening and glassless windows tend to be such, for the sake of shelter from wind and cold, so the word would be suitable.


Flat glass was made in Roman times but windows with glass only became common in the early 17th century. Prior to that, windows were made of flattened animal horn. Chaucer, writing towards the end of the 14th century, uses the word 'window' of a domestic home, when glassed windows would have been a rare sight, even in aristocratic dwellings.

The King James Bible (1611), translating a Hebrew word written in about 1000 BC, uses the word 'window' :

My beloved is like a roe or a young hart. Behold, he standeth behind our wall; he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. Song of Solomon 2:9.

Lattice, presumably, refers to a criss-cross of wooden slats.

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I would use the phrase open window. Whether the window has glass or not by construction, an open window is such that a person, or wind, could pass through it without breaking any glass.

It seems like you don't want the construction to be part of the story, but you want the reader to know that there was no risk of being cut or sound of breaking glass. Therefore it seems like an avoidable problem if we let the reader assume the window does or does not have glass and concentrate the narrative on the fact that the character can use the opening to escape without trouble.

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  • A nice suggestion. However, if there's nothing better than "window," then I don't think I'll modify it.
    – Stu W
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 15:45
  • That was definitely thinking outside the box. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 3:10
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For an opening in the wall of a dwelling, especially a window (glazed or not), aperture may be used.

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  • For clarity, "window aperture" is best (since it shouldn't be assumed that the reader would understand "aperture" used in this context on its own).
    – Keavon
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 7:50
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I believe the question has been answered. There is no single word that means "glassless window" or "unglazed window", most due to that fact that the word "window" predates the existence of common use of windows with glass.

However, in the deeper explanation of the question, was an another implied--but unasked--question, "How would you describe a glassless window, such as found in a primitive cabin?"

From a purely dramatic viewpoint, none of the suggestions--frame, hole in the wall, unglazed--work well. They disrupt the story flow. In this case, I believe that best solution is to establish the window is glassless before describing the action of jumping through it.

"A fire blocked the cabin's only door. Fortunately, I noticed there was no glass in the window and was able to squeezed through it and escaped to safety."

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  • An excellent suggestion for the writers' SE. However, your example doesn't match your solution. The unglazed window can be described by setting the scene in the preceding paragraph. Still, I was hoping for a single word.
    – Stu W
    Commented Oct 15, 2017 at 16:01
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An opening to let in illumination, like a small hole/gap/window, can be called simply a "light" (see also "skylight" or "rooflight"). However that's quite a specialised architectural term IMO. I'd probably say "I squeezed through the empty window opening [...]".

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In the Irish construction industry (I don't know about the broader world) it would be called an "ope" short for opening, although this would apply to doors too.

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  • So perhaps a ‘windope’, then? Worth introducing into the Irish construction industry? :-þ Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 8:59
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A window without glass might be referred to as a framed opening

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