- To winnow is to use an air current on grain in order to blow away chaff, or to separate out the best specimens.
- When you blow on grains of rice to remove chaff, this is an example of a time when you winnow.
- When you make members of a team keep competing and you eliminate the losers until you are left with only the five best players, this is an example of a time when you winnow down the players.
winnow definition by Webster's New World
- to blow the chaff from (grain) by wind or a forced current of air
- to blow off (chaff) in this manner
- to blow away; scatter
- to analyze or examine carefully in order to separate the various elements; sift
- to separate out or eliminate (the poor or useless parts)
- to sort out or extract (the good or useful parts)
- Now Rare to fan with or as with the wings
Origin: Middle English winewen ; from Old English windwian, to winnow ; from wind, wind
- the act of winnowing
- an apparatus for winnowing
- winnower noun
winnow definition by American Heritage Dictionary
verb win·nowed, win·now·ing, win·nows verb, transitive
- a. To separate the chaff from (grain) by means of a current of air.b. To rid of undesirable parts.
- To blow (chaff) off or away.
- To blow away; scatter.
- To blow on; fan: a breeze winnowing the tall grass.
- To examine closely in order to separate the good from the bad; sift.
- a. To separate or get rid of (an undesirable part); eliminate: winnowing out the errors in logic.b. To sort or select (a desirable part); extract.
- To separate grain from chaff.
- To separate the good from the bad.
- A device for winnowing grain.
- An act of winnowing.
Origin: Middle English winnewen, alteration of windwen, from Old English windwian, from wind, wind; see wind1.
- winˈnow·er noun