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.
The judges winnowed a thousand essays down to six finalists.
A breeze winnowing the tall grass.
Origin of winnow
- Middle English winnewen alteration of windwen from Old English windwian from wind wind wind1
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition
- From Middle English winewen, windewen, windwen, from Old English windwian (“to winnow, fan, ventilate"), from Proto-Germanic *windwÅnÄ… (“to throw about, winnow"), from Proto-Indo-European *wÄ“- (“to winnow, thresh"). Cognate with Middle High German winden (“to winnow"), Icelandic vinsa (“to pick out, weed").