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Nov 19, 2019-Tuesday



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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Introducing Shashi Tharoor’s Word of the Week

Starting this Sunday, the Congress leader who’s had all of us reaching for our dictionaries launches a column in HT committed to helping you expand your vocabulary. This week’s word: Defenestrate

more-lifestyle Updated: Apr 26, 2019 20:37 IST
Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor
Hindustan Times
(HT Illustration: Sudhir Shetty)

DEFENESTRATE, verb: literally, to throw out of the window; metaphorically, to jettison.

USAGE: The Opposition is united in its determination to defenestrate the Modi government.

Defenestrate” is one of those words one learned to use in college debates at St Stephen’s in the 1970s, combining just the right doses of gravitas and jocularity so beloved of adolescents. It was never enough to throw out something you disliked; you had to defenestrate it.

Derived from the Latin word fenestra or “window,” which survives in French as “fenêtre”, defenestration actually happened at least once in history, when two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were tossed out the window of the castle of Hradschin in Prague by Protestant radicals on May 21, 1618. This incident, which has gone down in the history books as the “Defenestration of Prague,” had a semi-happy ending: the victims survived, but only because they landed in a pile of garbage.

Their defenestration marked the start of the Thirty Years’ War. The defenestration that the Indian Opposition is striving for will merely end a Five-Year Torment.