Winnow meaning

wĭn'ō
To separate the chaff from (grain) by means of a current of air.
verb
7
2
To blow (chaff) off or away.
verb
6
2
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.

verb
6
3
(agriculture) To subject (granular material, especially food grain) to a current of air separating heavier and lighter components, as grain from chaff.
verb
4
1
To examine closely in order to separate the good from the bad; sift.

The judges winnowed a thousand essays down to six finalists.

verb
4
3
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To separate grain from chaff.
verb
1
1
A device for winnowing grain.
noun
1
1
An act of winnowing.
noun
1
1
To analyze or examine carefully in order to separate the various elements; sift.
verb
1
1
To fan with or as with the wings.
verb
1
1
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To blow on; fan.

A breeze winnowing the tall grass.

verb
0
0
To blow away; scatter.
verb
0
0
To winnow grain.
verb
0
1
The act of winnowing.
noun
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1
0
1
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(figuratively) To separate, sift, analyze, or test in this manner.

They winnowed the field to twelve.

They winnowed the winners from the losers.

They winnowed the losers from the winners.

verb
0
1
(literary) To blow upon or toss about by blowing; to set in motion as with a fan or wings.
verb
0
1
(intransitive, literary, dated) To move about with a flapping motion, as of wings; to flutter.
verb
0
1
That which winnows or which is used in winnowing; a contrivance for fanning or winnowing grain.
noun
0
1
To separate the good from the bad.
verb
0
2
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An apparatus for winnowing.
noun
0
2

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 *windwōnÄ… (“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").
    From Wiktionary