[ fan ]
See synonyms for fan on
  1. any device for producing a current of air by the movement of a broad surface or a number of such surfaces.

  2. an implement of feathers, leaves, paper, cloth, etc., often in the shape of a long triangle or of a semicircle, for waving lightly in the hand to create a cooling current of air about a person: We sat on the veranda, cooling ourselves with palm-leaf fans.

  1. anything resembling such an implement, as the tail of a bird.

  2. any of various devices consisting essentially of a series of radiating vanes or blades attached to and revolving with a central hublike portion to produce a current of air: ceiling fan; wall fan.

  3. a series of revolving blades supplying air for winnowing or cleaning grain.

  4. Horology. fly2 (def. 28).

  5. a semicircular decoration of bunting.

  6. Physical Geography. an alluvial fan.

verb (used with object),fanned, fan·ning.
  1. to move or agitate (the air) with or as if with a fan.

  2. to cause air to blow upon, as from a fan; cool or refresh with or as if with a fan: He fanned his face with a newspaper.

  1. to stir to activity with or as if with a fan: to fan a flame; to fan emotions.

  2. (of a breeze, current of air, etc.) to blow upon, as if driven by a fan: A cool breeze fanned the shore.

  3. to spread out like a fan: The dealer fanned the cards.

  4. Informal. to move (oneself) quickly: You'll fan your tail out of here if you know what's good for you.

  5. Agriculture. to winnow, especially by an artificial current of air.

  6. Baseball. (of a pitcher) to strike out (a batter).

  7. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to punish by spanking; spank: Your mother will fan you good if you break that dish.

verb (used without object),fanned, fan·ning.
  1. to strike, swing, or brush lightly at something.

  2. Western U.S. (chiefly cowboy use). to slap the flanks of (a horse or other animal) repeatedly with a hat to get it to move or move faster.

  1. to spread out like a fan (often followed by out): The forest fire fanned out in all directions.

  2. Baseball. (of a batter) to strike out, usually by swinging at and missing the pitch charged as the third strike.

Idioms about fan

  1. hit the fan, Slang. to become suddenly more awkward, embarrassing, or troublesome: When news of the incident was leaked to the press, everything hit the fan at once.: See also shit (def. 26).

Origin of fan

First recorded before 900; Middle English, Old English fann, from Latin vannus “winnowing basket”

Other words from fan

  • fanlike, adjective
  • fanner, noun
  • un·fanned, adjective

Other definitions for fan (2 of 3)

[ fan ]

  1. an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin.

Origin of fan

An Americanism dating back to 1885–90; short for fanatic

Other words for fan

Other definitions for Fan (3 of 3)

[ fan, fahn ]

noun,plural Fans, (especially collectively) Fan. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use fan in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for fan (1 of 2)


/ (fæn) /

    • any device for creating a current of air by movement of a surface or number of surfaces, esp a rotating device consisting of a number of blades attached to a central hub

    • a machine that rotates such a device

  1. any of various hand-agitated devices for cooling onself, esp a collapsible semicircular series of flat segments of paper, ivory, etc

  1. something shaped like such a fan, such as the tail of certain birds

  2. agriculture

    • a kind of basket formerly used for winnowing grain

    • a machine equipped with a fan for winnowing or cleaning grain

verbfans, fanning or fanned (mainly tr)
  1. to cause a current of air, esp cool air, to blow upon, as by means of a fan: to fan one's face

  2. to agitate or move (air, smoke, etc) with or as if with a fan

  1. to make fiercer, more ardent, etc: fan one's passion

  2. (also intr often foll by out) to spread out or cause to spread out in the shape of a fan

    • to fire (an automatic gun) continuously by keeping the trigger depressed

    • to fire (a nonautomatic gun) several times by repeatedly chopping back the hammer with the palm

  3. to winnow (grain) by blowing the chaff away from it

Origin of fan

Old English fann, from Latin vannus

Derived forms of fan

  • fanlike, adjective
  • fanner, noun

British Dictionary definitions for fan (2 of 2)


/ (fæn) /

  1. an ardent admirer of a pop star, film actor, football team, etc

  2. a devotee of a sport, hobby, etc

Origin of fan

C17, re-formed C19: from fan (atic)

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with fan


In addition to the idiom beginning with fan

  • fan the flames

also see:

  • shit will hit the fan

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.