The “wind eye”: why windows are called windows

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘window’? Glass? Lucky you… In the middle ages, most windows were simply open holes in the wall. And the word itself still bears witness of that time!

Okay, time for a pretty cool linguistic fun fact! In the middle ages, English borrowed the word ‘window’ from the Vikings. In the Viking language, Old Norse, a window was called ‘vindauga’, which literally means ‘wind eye’.

Why a ‘wind eye’, you ask? Because the window had no glass and was simply a hole, or ‘eye’, in the wall for the wind to pass through!

This immediately explains why most ‘wind eyes’ in castles are pretty small… Castles were cold enough in general, their inhabitants didn’t want their little bit of warmth to escape through huge, panoramic holes in the outside walls. Comfort trumps a pretty view, it turns out. So the windows were just big enough to allow some light and fresh air inside, but definitely no larger than that!

The “wind eye”: why windows are called windows
window etymology

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