Suppose, for example, that a child is watching his dad come home from work. She can't wait any longer to show what she's got, so she goes to the window and shows her new teddy bear to her dad. How can I say "she showed it to him from the window" in Latin? The bolded part is what I am unsure about.

I can see various options, but I can't tell which, if any, is correct:

Illa id huic monstravit ex fenestra.
Illa id huic monstravit in fenestra.
Illa id huic monstravit a fenestra.
Illa id huic monstravit per fenestram.
Illa id huic monstravit fenestra.

The pronouns are irrelevant for this question. Is there an (attested) idiom for doing something from a window, be it showing a teddy bear, singing a song, or greeting a friend? If different actions require different choices of words, I give precedent to the example given above.

  • I am not a native English speaker, but I think the best way to say it in English is "she showed it to him through the window". Therefore I would say the best choice would be per fenestram. Maybe transfenestra could work? I do not know if my ideas are idiomatic, so please take them with a pinch of salt.
    – loading...
    Oct 3, 2017 at 20:47
  • @loading... I'm not a native speaker either, so I may have gotten my idiom wrong. That's why I added the little story, to avoid misunderstandings.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 4, 2017 at 5:11

1 Answer 1


The examples closest to your scenario that I could find favour per fenestram.

These examples are:

  • a husband finds his wife looking too often out a window in Augustine, Letters, no. 57 (to Lampadius):

immoderatius per fenestram aspicientem

  • Tanaquil addressing a crowd from the top-floor windows in Livy, History of Rome, 1.1:

per fenestras ... populum Tanaquil adloquitur

  • a crowd is half-visible through the windows in Apuleius, Met., 3

nonnulli per fenestras ... semiconspicui

There is a lot of throwing things out of windows which also uses per, e.g. Apuleius, Met., 4.12; Macrobius, Sat., 2.22; Seneca, Cons. to Marcia, 22; Propertius, Elegies, 4.7.

Fenestra (abl.) is used by Martial to describe a brothel owner spotting a naked Nanneius from the window (Epigrams, 11.61) (whereupon she closes the doors). Apuleius also uses the ablative for someone leaning from a window (Met., 4.12).

Ex fenestris is used by Livy (History of Rome, 24.21) of crowds looking out from the roofs and windows: ex tectis fenestrisque prospectant

  • But doesn't defenestration come from de fenestra? Does per fenestram mean a similar thing?
    – Sam K
    Oct 4, 2017 at 3:05
  • That's my understanding of the etymology too. However, trawling through a lot of texts, per fenestram is the most used and includes people looking out of, speaking from, dangling ropes from, throwing things out of, and climbing in through windows.
    – Penelope
    Oct 4, 2017 at 3:18
  • It would seem that the word was invented for a particular incident in 1618: etymonline.com/index.php?term=defenestration
    – Penelope
    Oct 4, 2017 at 3:24
  • Thanks, this is great! @SamK The preposition de is good for throwing something down from somewhere, but I have doubts for its suitability here when nothing is thrown to the street.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Oct 4, 2017 at 5:08
  • Interesting to hear that defenestration was so specific in origin! Usually words just kind of evolve their meaning and form over time.
    – Sam K
    Oct 4, 2017 at 21:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.