Winnow definition

wĭnō
To blow (chaff) off or away.
verb
11
3
To separate the chaff from (grain) by means of a current of air.
verb
10
5
To separate grain from chaff.
verb
5
1
An act of winnowing.
noun
5
2
To blow on; fan.

A breeze winnowing the tall grass.

verb
4
1
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To examine closely in order to separate the good from the bad; sift.

The judges winnowed a thousand essays down to six finalists.

verb
7
5
A device for winnowing grain.
noun
4
2
To analyze or examine carefully in order to separate the various elements; sift.
verb
3
1
To blow away; scatter.
verb
2
1
To sort or select (a desirable part); extract.

The investigators winnowed the facts from the testimony.

verb
1
0
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The act of winnowing.
noun
1
1
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
0
0
To separate the good from the bad.
verb
0
0
(now rare) To fan with or as with the wings.
verb
0
0
To blow the chaff from (grain) by wind or a forced current of air.
verb
0
0
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To blow off (chaff) in this manner.
verb
0
0
To separate out or eliminate (the poor or useless parts)
verb
0
0
To sort out or extract (the good or useful parts)
verb
0
0
(agriculture) To subject (granular material, especially food grain) to a current of air separating heavier and lighter components, as grain from chaff.
verb
0
0
(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
0
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(literary) To blow upon or toss about by blowing; to set in motion as with a fan or wings.
verb
0
0
(intransitive, literary, dated) To move about with a flapping motion, as of wings; to flutter.
verb
0
0
That which winnows or which is used in winnowing; a contrivance for fanning or winnowing grain.
noun
0
0
To winnow grain.
verb
1
2
To separate or get rid of (an undesirable part); eliminate.

Winnowing out the errors in logic.

verb
1
3
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An apparatus for winnowing.
noun
0
2

Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
winnow
Plural:
winnows

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