late 14c., "pertaining to windows," from Old French fenestral, from fenestre "window," from Latin fenestra (see fenestration).
1870 in the anatomical sense, noun of action from Latin fenestrare, from fenestra "window, opening for light," a word perhaps from Etruscan (see defenestration). Meaning "arrangement of windows" as a design element in architecture is from 1846. Related: Fenestrated.
1620, "the action of throwing out of a window," from Latin fenestra "window." A word invented for one incident: the "Defenestration of Prague," May 21, 1618, when two Catholic deputies to the Bohemian national assembly and a secretary were tossed out the window of the castle of Hradschin by Protestant radicals (the pair landed in a trash heap and survived). It marked the start of the Thirty Years' War.
The extraordinary chance which had saved three lives was a holy miracle or a comic accident according to the religion of the beholder .... Murder or no murder, the coup d'état was complete, and since Thurn had overruled many of his supporters in demanding death it was well for the conscience of his allies that a pile of mouldering filth in the courtyard of the Hradschin had made soft falling for the governors. [Cicely Veronica Wedgwood, "The Thirty Years War," 1938]
Some linguists link fenestra with Greek verb phainein "to show;" others see in it an Etruscan borrowing, based on the suffix -(s)tra, as in Latin loan-words aplustre "the carved stern of a ship with its ornaments," genista "the plant broom," lanista "trainer of gladiators." Related: Defenestrate (1915); defenestrated (1620).
c. 1200, literally "wind eye," from Old Norse vindauga, from vindr "wind" (see wind (n.1)) + auga "eye" (from PIE root *okw- "to see"). Replaced Old English eagþyrl, literally "eye-hole," and eagduru, literally "eye-door." Compare Old Frisian andern "window," literally "breath-door."
Originally an unglazed hole in a roof. Most Germanic languages later adopted a version of Latin fenestra to describe the glass version (such as German Fenster, Swedish fönster), and English used fenester as a parallel word till mid-16c.
Window dressing in reference to shop windows is recorded from 1853; figurative sense is by 1898. Window seat is attested from 1778. Window of opportunity (1979) is from earlier figurative use in U.S. space program, such as launch window (1963). Window-shopping is recorded from 1904.
Window shopping, according to the women, is the king of outdoor sports. Whenever a woman gets down town and has 2 or 3 hours and no money to spend, she goes window shopping. She gives the Poiret gowns and the thousand dollar furs the double O and then kids herself into believing she'd look like Lillian Russell or Beverly Bayne if she had 'em on. It's great for developing the imagination and one of the great secrets of conserving the bankroll. ... [Motor Age, Jan. 27, 1916]