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winnow

[win-oh] /ˈwɪn oʊ/
verb (used with object)
1.
to free (grain) from the lighter particles of chaff, dirt, etc., especially by throwing it into the air and allowing the wind or a forced current of air to blow away impurities.
2.
to drive or blow (chaff, dirt, etc.) away by fanning.
3.
to blow upon; fan.
4.
to subject to some process of separating or distinguishing; analyze critically; sift:
to winnow a mass of statements.
5.
to separate or distinguish (valuable from worthless parts) (sometimes followed by out):
to winnow falsehood from truth.
6.
to pursue (a course) with flapping wings in flying.
7.
to fan or stir (the air) as with the wings in flying.
verb (used without object)
8.
to free grain from chaff by wind or driven air.
9.
to fly with flapping wings; flutter.
noun
10.
a device or contrivance used for winnowing.
11.
an act of winnowing.
Origin of winnow
900
before 900; Middle English win(d)wen (v.), Old English windwian, derivative of wind wind1
Related forms
winnower, noun
unwinnowed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for winnowing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Do not our household servants talk of sifting, straining, winnowing?

    Sophist Plato
  • Well, after that, Ischomachus, we will proceed to cleanse the corn by winnowing.

    The Economist Xenophon
  • There was Hilary in the barn with his men, as busy as they could well be, winnowing oats.

    Round About a Great Estate Richard Jefferies
  • The older women are winnowing grain and grinding at the metate.

    The Arrow-Maker Mary Austin
  • After drying, they are brought to the hulling and winnowing machines.

    All About Coffee William H. Ukers
British Dictionary definitions for winnowing

winnow

/ˈwɪnəʊ/
verb
1.
to separate (grain) from (chaff) by means of a wind or current of air
2.
(transitive) to examine in order to select the desirable elements
3.
(transitive) (archaic) to beat (the air) with wings
4.
(transitive) (rare) to blow upon; fan
noun
5.
  1. a device for winnowing
  2. the act or process of winnowing
Derived Forms
winnower, noun
Word Origin
Old English windwian; related to Old High German wintōn, Gothic diswinthjan, Latin ventilāre. See wind1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for winnowing

winnow

v.

Old English windwian, from wind "air in motion, paring down," see wind (n.1). Cognate with Old Norse vinza, Old High German winton "to fan, winnow," Gothic diswinþjan "to throw (grain) apart," Latin vannus "winnowing fan."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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