Daily Archives: August 11, 2014

infenestration

Do this: click “play” on the first video below and then click to skip the ad, and then immediately click “play” on the second video below, so they play at the same time. Watch the second one while the first one provides a backing soundtrack.*

Infestation may be a problem with insects, but with birds, infenestration can be a bigger problem. Especially if the bird or the window – or both – aren’t as resilient as in that video. One time when I was a little kid, we heard a smash and went and looked, and a bird had flown into the high window in our entryway. Neither survived.

Oh, is infenestration not a familiar word? I’m not surprised. Don’t bother looking for it in a dictionary; you won’t find it. But it’s a perfectly reasonable confection of parts. Defenstration means throwing something or someone out of a window: de ‘out’ plus fenestr ‘window’ (root) plus ation. Replace the out with an in and you get infenestration. Logical? I think so, and so does Ken Broadhurst, who – independently – used the same reasoning to arrive at the same word with the same meaning: see ckenb.blogspot.ca/2014/05/infenestration.html:

We have the term “defenestration” meaning to throw someone or something out a window. It’s related to the French word for window, which is fenêtre. We don’t have the word *infenestration* as far as I know. If we did, it would mean to collide with a window. People do it, and birds evidently do it a lot.

Infenestration is an infernal frustration, whether you’re a bird or a homeowner. It’s also a problem for people who have sliding glass doors, especially clean ones. A co-worker told me of a friend who broke her nose rushing inside – or rather, attempting to rush inside through a closed glass door. We have a big glass door on a boardroom where I work, and there have been collisions but no fractures. There’s also one in my apartment, at the entrance to the “solarium” (guest room/spare room/etc.), which is a great place for a sleepy person not to see the glass.

What is a defense against infenestration? In my apartment, there’s a tripod in front of the fixed section of the door, and a sticky note at eye level on the sliding section. Public buildings put dots on glass that people might walk into and paper silhouettes of birds of prey on windows that birds might fly into. Or they put nothing, of course. Dead birds are a common enough sight on the sidewalks of downtown Toronto. The offices leave their lights on at night and the birds try to fly in. They usually don’t get to go back and do it again.

*Intense thanks to Iva Cheung for this.