A tragedy occurred earlier this week when the head of Lukoil, the giant Russian oil and gas concern, died after falling from a sixth-floor window in a hospital according to state media reports. Although Russian law enforcement sources speculate that the death was a suicide, the fact that the unfortunate man had been critical of Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine caused some to speculate that perhaps his fall from the hospital window was something else. As a result, people of a more sesquipedalian nature had a very rare opportunity to use a big word in its literal sense.
The word is “defenestration,” which means the act of throwing someone out of a window. (The word is derived from the Latin word “fenestra,” which means window.)
Defenestration is one of those words that–fortunately for those of use who don’t want to be hurled out of windows–can almost never be used in its literal sense. But, because it is a cool word that people like the Long-Haired Red Sox Fan really like to say, it has sometimes been applied beyond its literal sense to describe the swift dismissal of someone from a position of importance.
Now that the hapless demise of a Russian businessman has opened the door (get it?) to the use of “defenestration” in its strict sense in everyday conversation, we’ll have to look for chances to use other big words that are almost never apt. Keep your eyes open for opportunities to use “acersecomicke” (meaning someone whose hair has never been cut) or “empleomania” (meaning someone with a mania for holding public office).