[ win-oh ]
/ ˈwɪn oʊ /

verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to free grain from chaff by wind or driven air.
to fly with flapping wings; flutter.


a device or contrivance used for winnowing.
an act of winnowing.

Origin of winnow

before 900; Middle English win(d)wen (v.), Old English windwian, derivative of wind wind1


win·now·er, nounun·win·nowed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for winnow

British Dictionary definitions for winnow

/ (ˈwɪnəʊ) /


to separate (grain) from (chaff) by means of a wind or current of air
(tr) to examine in order to select the desirable elements
(tr) archaic to beat (the air) with wings
(tr) rare to blow upon; fan


  1. a device for winnowing
  2. the act or process of winnowing

Derived forms of winnow

winnower, noun

Word Origin for winnow

Old English windwian; related to Old High German wintōn, Gothic diswinthjan, Latin ventilāre. See wind 1
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