AskDefine | Define window

The Collaborative Dictionary

Window \Win"dow\, n. [OE. windowe, windoge, Icel. vindauga window, properly, wind eye; akin to Dan. vindue. ????. See Wind, n., and Eye.] [1913 Webster]
An opening in the wall of a building for the admission of light and air, usually closed by casements or sashes containing some transparent material, as glass, and capable of being opened and shut at pleasure. [1913 Webster] I leaped from the window of the citadel. --Shak. [1913 Webster] Then to come, in spite of sorrow, And at my window bid good morrow. --Milton. [1913 Webster]
(Arch.) The shutter, casement, sash with its fittings, or other framework, which closes a window opening. [1913 Webster]
A figure formed of lines crossing each other. [R.] [1913 Webster] Till he has windows on his bread and butter. --King. [1913 Webster]
a period of time in which some activity may be uniquely possible, more easily accomplished, or more likely to succeed; as, a launch window for a mission to Mars. [PJC]
(Computers) a region on a computer display screen which represents a separate computational process, controlled more or less independently from the remaining part of the screen, and having widely varying functions, from simply displaying information to comprising a separate conceptual screen in which output can be visualized, input can be controlled, program dialogs may be accomplished, and a program may be controlled independently of any other processes occurring in the computer. The window may have a fixed location and size, or (as in modern Graphical User Interfaces) may have its size and location on the screen under the control of the operator. [PJC] [1913 Webster] French window (Arch.), a casement window in two folds, usually reaching to the floor; -- called also French casement. Window back (Arch.), the inside face of the low, and usually thin, piece of wall between the window sill and the floor below. Window blind, a blind or shade for a window. Window bole, part of a window closed by a shutter which can be opened at will. [Scot.] Window box, one of the hollows in the sides of a window frame for the weights which counterbalance a lifting sash. Window frame, the frame of a window which receives and holds the sashes or casement. Window glass, panes of glass for windows; the kind of glass used in windows. Window martin (Zool.), the common European martin. [Prov. Eng.] Window oyster (Zool.), a marine bivalve shell (Placuna placenta) native of the East Indies and China. Its valves are very broad, thin, and translucent, and are said to have been used formerly in place of glass. Window pane. (a) (Arch.) See Pane, n., 3 (b) . (b) (Zool.) See Windowpane, in the Vocabulary. Window sash, the sash, or light frame, in which panes of glass are set for windows. Window seat, a seat arranged in the recess of a window. See Window stool, under Stool. Window shade, a shade or blind for a window; usually, one that is hung on a roller. Window shell (Zool.), the window oyster. Window shutter, a shutter or blind used to close or darken windows. Window sill (Arch.), the flat piece of wood, stone, or the like, at the bottom of a window frame. Window swallow (Zool.), the common European martin. [Prov. Eng.] Window tax, a tax or duty formerly levied on all windows, or openings for light, above the number of eight in houses standing in cities or towns. [Eng.] [1913 Webster]
Window \Win"dow\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Windowed; p. pr. & vb. n. Windowing.] [1913 Webster]
To furnish with windows. [1913 Webster]
To place at or in a window. [R.] [1913 Webster] Wouldst thou be windowed in great Rome and see Thy master thus with pleach'd arms, bending down His corrigible neck? --Shak. [1913 Webster]

Word Net



1 a framework of wood or metal that contains a glass windowpane and is built into a wall or roof to admit light or air
2 a transparent opening in a vehicle that allow vision out of the sides or back; usually is capable of being opened
3 a transparent panel (as of an envelope) inserted in an otherwise opaque material
4 an opening that resembles a window in appearance or function; "he could see them through a window in the trees"
5 the time period that is considered best for starting or finishing something; "the expanded window will give us time to catch the thieves"; "they had a window of less than an hour when an attack would have succeeded"
6 a pane in a window; "the ball shattered the window" [syn: windowpane]
7 an opening in the wall of a building (usually to admit light and air); "he stuck his head in the window"
8 (computer science) a rectangular part of a computer screen that contains a display different from the rest of the screen

Moby Thesaurus

aluminum foil, bay, bay window, bow window, casement, casement window, chaff, fan window, fanlight, grille, lancet window, lantern, lattice, light, louver window, oriel, pane, picture window, port, porthole, rose window, skylight, tinfoil, transom, wicket, window bay, window glass, windowpane



From vindauga, combined from of vindrwind” and augaeye”. The “windows” in these times were just holes (eyes) in the wall that permitted wind to pass through.


  • (UK) /ˈwɪndəʊ/
  • (US) /ˈwɪndoʊ/
  • Rhymes: -ɪndəʊ
  • Hyphenation: win·dow


  1. An opening, usually covered by one or more panes of clear glass, to allow light and air from outside to enter a building or vehicle.
    • 1952: A window is an opening in a wall to admit light and air. — L.F. Salzman, Building in England, p. 173.
  2. An opening, usually covered by glass, in a shop which allows people to view the shop and its products from outside.
  3. A period of time when something is available.
    launch window
    window of opportunity
  4. A rectangular area on a computer terminal or screen containing some kind of user interface, displaying the output of and allowing input for one of a number of simultaneously running computer processes.


opening for light and air
shop window
period of time
area on a computer screen
  • Arabic: نافذة
  • Czech: okno
  • Danish: vindue
  • Dutch: venster
  • Esperanto: fenestro
  • Finnish: ikkuna
  • French: fenêtre
  • German: Fenster
  • Hungarian: ablak
  • Icelandic: gluggi
  • Japanese: ウィンドウ (windō)
  • Latvian: logs
  • Polish: okno, okienko
  • Portuguese: janela
  • Romanian: fereastră
  • Russian: окно
  • Slovenian: okno
  • Spanish: pantalla
  • Swedish: fönster
  • Ukrainian: вікно (viknó)
A window is an opening in an otherwise solid and opaque surface that allows the passage of light and, if not closed or sealed, air and sound. Windows are usually glazed or covered in some other transparent or translucent material. Windows are held in place by frames, which prevent them from collapsing.


The word Window originates from the Old Norse vindauga, from vindr "wind" and auga "eye." "Vindauga" is still used in Icelandic, as well as some Norwegian and Swedish dialects to mean exactly the same thing: window. It is first recorded in the early 13th century, and originally referred to an unglazed hole in a roof. Window replaced the Old English eagþyrl, which literally means "eye-hole," and eagduru, "eye-door". Most Germanic languages however adopted the Latin word fenestra to describe a window with glass, such as Swedish fönster, or German Fenster. Notable exceptions to this, apart from English, are Danish and Norwegian, with the English word window closely resembling the words vindue and vindu respectively. This is probably due to the Scandinavian influence on the English language by means of loanwords during the Viking Age. In English the word fenester was used as a parallel until the mid-1700s and fenestration is still used to describe the arrangement of windows within a facade.

Definition and types of windows

A window is an opening in a wall that lets light and possibly air into the room and allows occupants to see out. Primitive windows were just holes. Later, they were covered with animal hide, cloth, or wood. Shutters that could be opened and closed came next. Over time, windows were built that both protected the inhabitants from the elements and transmitted light: mullioned glass windows, which joined multiple small pieces of glass with leading, paper windows, flattened pieces of translucent animal horn, and plates of thinly sliced marble. Mullioned glass windows were the windows of choice among European well-to-do, whereas paper windows were economical and widely used in ancient China , Korea , Japan. In England, glass became common in the windows of ordinary homes only in the early 17th century whereas windows made up of panes of flattened animal horn were used as early as the 14th century in Northern Britain. Modern-style floor-to-ceiling windows became possible only after the industrial glass making process was perfected. Evidence of glass window panes in Italy dates back nearly 3000 years.
Modern windows are customarily large rectangles or squares with glass surfaces. Churches traditionally have stained glass windows.
Modern domestic windows come in many styles. The choice of design varies throughout the world, and is largely dictated by the prevailing weather conditions. Coastal climates tend to have smaller outward-opening windows due to the stronger winds experienced - e.g. England. Continental climates tend to have larger windows, many of which open inwards - e.g. France and Germany. Styles available include:

Double-hung sash window

The traditional style of window in the USA, and many other places that were formerly colonized by the UK, with two parts (sashes) that overlap slightly and slide up and down inside the frame. The two parts are not necessarily the same size. Nowadays, most new double-hung sash windows use spring balances to support the sashes, but traditionally, counterweights held in boxes either side of the window were used. These were and are attached to the sashes using pulleys of either braided cord or, later, purpose-made chain. Double-hung sash windows were traditionally often fitted with shutters. Sash windows may be fitted with simplex hinges which allow the window to be locked into hinges on one side, while the rope on the other side is detached, allowing the window to be opened for escape or cleaning.

Single-hung sash window

One sash is movable (usually the bottom one) and the other fixed. This is the earlier form of sliding sash window, and is obviously also cheaper.

Horizontal sliding sash window

Has two or more sashes that overlap slightly but slide horizontally within the frame. In the UK, these are sometimes called Yorkshire sash windows, presumably because of their traditional use in that county.

Casement window

A window with a hinged sash that swings in or out like a door comprising either a side-hung, top-hung, or occasionally bottom-hung sash or a combination of these types, sometimes with fixed panels on one or more sides of the sash. In the USA these are usually opened using a crank, but in Europe they tend to use projection friction stays and espagnolette locking. Formerly, plain hinges were used with a casement stay. Handing applies to casement windows to determine direction of swing.
A top hung hinged sash is also called an awning window.

Tilt and slide

A window (more usually a door-sized window) where the sash tilts inwards at the top and then slides horizontally behind the fixed pane.

Tilt and turn

A window which can either tilt inwards at the top, or can open inwards hinged at the side.

Transom window

A window above a door; if an exterior door the transom window is often fixed, if an interior door it can often open either by hinges at top or bottom, or can rotate about hinges at the middle of its sides. It provided ventilation before forced air heating and cooling.

Jalousie window

Also known as a louvred window, this window is comprised of many slats of glass that open and close like a Venetian blind, usually using a crank or a lever. The hinges may be at the top or middle of the short end of the slats of glass. They are used extensively in tropical and subtropical architecture. A Jalousie door is a door with a Jalousie window.

Clerestory window

A vertical window set in a roof structure or high in a wall, used for daylighting.


A flat or sloped window built into a roof structure that is out of reach for daylighting.

Roof Window

A sloped window built into a roof structure that is in reach for daylighting.

Roof Lantern or Cupola

A roof lantern is a multi-paned glass structure, resembling a small building, built on a roof for day or moon light. Sometimes includes an additional clerestory. May also be called a cupola.

Bay window

A multi-panel window, with at least three panels set at different angles to create a protrusion from the wall is commonly used in cold country where snow often falls. The panels are thus set in three different directions,from where a person would have a view from the interior of a building.

Oriel window

A window with many panels. It is most often seen in the typical Tudor-style house and monasterie. An oriel window projects from the wall and does not extend to the ground. Oriel windows originated as a form of porch. They are often supported by brackets or corbels. Buildings in the Gothic Revival style often have oriell windows.

Fixed window

A window that cannot be opened, whose function is limited to allowing light to enter. Clerestory windows are often fixed. Transom windows may be fixed or operable.

Picture window

A very large fixed window in a wall, typically without glazing bars, or glazed with only perfunctory glazing bars near the edge of the window. Picture windows are intended to provide an unimpeded view, as if framing a picture.

Multi-lit window

A window glazed with small panes of glass separated by wooden or lead "glazing bars", or "muntins", arranged in a decorative "glazing pattern" often dictated by the architectural style at use. Due to the historic unavailability of large panes of glass, this was the prevailing style of window until the beginning of the twentieth century, and is traditionally still used today.

Emergency exit window / egress window

A window big enough and low enough so that occupants can escape through the opening in an emergency, such as a fire. In the United States, exact specifications for emergency windows in bedrooms are given in many building codes. Vehicles, such as buses and aircraft, frequently have emergency exit windows as well.

Stained glass window

Main article stained glass
A window composed of pieces of colored glass, transparent or opaque, frequently portraying persons or scenes. Typically the glass in these windows is separated by lead glazing bars. Stained glass windows were popular in Victorian houses and some Wrightian houses, and are especially common in churches.

French window

A French window, also known as a French door is really a type of door, but one which has one or more panes of glass set into the whole length of the door, meaning it also functions as a window, one in which you can walk through.

Technical terms

Etymologically speaking, any window can be called a "light". However, within the window industry, particularly in insulated glass production, the term "lite" (so-spelled to keep the meaning differentiated from actual sunlight) is used to mean a single glass pane, several of which may be used to construct the final window product. For example, a sash unit, consisting of at least one sliding glass component, is typically composed of two lites, while a fixed window is composed of one lite. The terms "single-light", "double-light" etc refer to the number of these glass panes in a window.
The lights in a window sash are divided horizontally and vertically by narrow strips of wood or metal called muntins. More substantial load bearing or structural vertical dividers are called mullions, with the corresponding horizontal dividers referred to as transoms.
In the USA, the term replacement window means a framed window designed to slip inside the original window frame from the inside after the old sashes are removed. In Europe, however, it usually means a complete window including a replacement outer frame.
The USA term new construction window means a window with a nailing fin designed to be inserted into a rough opening from the outside before applying siding and inside trim. A nailing fin is a projection on the outer frame of the window in the same plane as the glazing, which overlaps the prepared opening, and can thus be 'nailed' into place).
In the UK and Europe, windows in new-build houses are usually fixed with long screws into expanding plastic plugs in the brickwork. A gap of up to 13mm is left around all four sides, and filled with expanding polyurethane foam. This makes the window fixing weatherproof but allows for expansion due to heat.

Insulated window frames

Windows can be a significant source of heat transfer. Different kinds of glazing and window frames can reduce thermal losses and gains.
Frames and sashes are traditionally made of wood, but metal, vinyl or PVC, and composites are also common. The cost and availability of may vary from country to country. Solid metal frames and sashes are poor insulators because metals conduct heat quickly. Vinyl frames are popular in Europe because they conduct heat poorly. Wood is also a good insulator. Composite frames may combine materials to obtain aesthetics of one material with the functional benefits of another. Modern metal window parts typically consist of two surfaces separated by insulating spacer material.
Many windows have movable window coverings such as blinds or curtains to keep out light, provide additional insulation, or ensure privacy.
Air infiltration and hence convective heat losses can be reduce by good window seals and attention to construction. Evacuated or argon-filled Insulated glazing units are also dependent on meticulous frame construction to prevent entry of air and loss of efficiency.

Window construction

Modern windows are usually glazed with one large sheet of glass per sash, while windows in the past were glazed with multiple panes separated by "glazing bars", or "muntins", due to the unavailability of large sheets of glass. Today, glazing bars tend to be decorative, separating windows into small panes of glass even though larger panes of glass are available, generally in a pattern dictated by the architectural style at use. Glazing bars are typically wooden, but occasionally lead glazing bars soldered in place are used for more intricate glazing patterns.
A beam over the top of a window is known as the lintel or transom.

Sun incidence angle

Historically, windows are designed with surfaces parallel to vertical building walls. Such a design allows considerable solar light and heat penetration due to the most commonly occurring incidence of sun angles. In passive solar building design, an extended eave is typically used to control the amount of solar light and heat entering the window(s).
An alternate method would be to calculate a more optimum angle for mounting windows which accounts for summer sun load minimization, with consideration of the actual latitude of the particular building. An example where this process has been implemented is the Dakin Building, Brisbane, California; much of the fenestration has been designed to reflect summer heat load and assist in preventing summer interior over-illumination and glare, by designing window canting to achieve a near 45 degree angle.

Windows and religion

The symbolism of windows plays a part in the customs and traditions of certain religions.
  • On the holiday of Hanukkah it is customary to place the lighted menorah on a windowsill, preferably facing the street, so others can see it.

See also


Las Cruces, New Mexico (January, 1985). Japanese Onsen in Hakone


window in Arabic: نافذة
window in Aragonese: Finestra
window in Breton: Prenestr
window in Bulgarian: Прозорец
window in Catalan: Finestra
window in Czech: Okno
window in Danish: Vindue
window in German: Fenster
window in Modern Greek (1453-): Παράθυρο
window in Spanish: Ventana
window in Esperanto: Fenestro
window in French: Fenêtre
window in Scottish Gaelic: Uinneag
window in Galician: Fiestra
window in Korean: 창문
window in Indonesian: Jendela
window in Icelandic: Gluggi
window in Italian: Finestra
window in Hebrew: חלון
window in Georgian: ფანჯარა
window in Luxembourgish: Fënster (Gebai)
window in Lithuanian: Langas
window in Hungarian: Ablak
window in Dutch: Venster (muur)
window in Dutch Low Saxon: Vienster
window in Japanese: 窓
window in Neapolitan: Fenesta
window in Norwegian: Vindu
window in Narom: F'nêt'
window in Polish: Okno
window in Portuguese: Janela
window in Quechua: Wintana
window in Russian: Окно
window in Sicilian: Finestra
window in Simple English: Window
window in Slovak: Okno
window in Serbian: Прозор
window in Finnish: Ikkuna
window in Swedish: Fönster
window in Tamil: சாளரம்
window in Tajik: Тиреза
window in Turkish: Pencere
window in Ukrainian: Вікно
window in Vlaams: Veister
window in Yiddish: פענסטער
window in Chinese: 窗
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