I have only ever seen the word defenestrate`used in relation to the act of throwing someone else out of the window. But would this verb be appropriate when referring to someone doing it themselves?

I do not see any etymological reason not to use it in such a way, and yet I've never seen it be used in this fashion.

For instance, if I were to disembark a bus through the window, could it be said, that I "defenestrated myself"? Or does the word imply sinister\criminal nature of the act?

I've seen mentions of an extremely rare usage of the word autodefenestration, but I feel like it is a bit of idiosyncratic solution.

  • 2
    And removing a window? Acceptability is driven by use, and this word is so rare it is best avoided, never mind attempting to broaden meaning and concoct non-word compounds. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 15:19
  • People don't get thrown (or throw themselves) out of windows all that often. Defenestrate is more usually figurative, meaning Remove or dismiss (someone) from a position of power or authority. If I wanted to commit defenestration on myself, the word to use is resign. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 15:25
  • The word is inexorably linked to the defenestrations of Prague. It isn't productive because we don't throw people out of windows to make a political statements anymore (Lecter's homage via Pazzi not withstanding).
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


The verb to defenestrate is usually transitive, but it can take a reflexive pronoun as a pseudo-object:

Roadwork: A Novel By Richard Bachman, Stephen King

Even in his dreams he thought he was awake, and in his dreams he committed suicide over and over; burned himself; bludgeoned himself by standing under an anvil and pulling a rope; ... shot himself ... defenestrated himself; ...

Return to Reichenbach By Geri Schear

I continued rifling through the papers. A name caught my eye. “Take a look at this, Watson,” I said, handing him the document.

“Carton? The fellow who defenestrated himself after changing his will and leaving his wife and son nothing.”

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