Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

winnow

[win-oh]
See more synonyms for winnow on Thesaurus.com
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.
Show More
verb (used without object)
  1. to free grain from chaff by wind or driven air.
  2. to fly with flapping wings; flutter.
Show More
noun
  1. a device or contrivance used for winnowing.
  2. an act of winnowing.
Show More

Origin of winnow

before 900; Middle English win(d)wen (v.), Old English windwian, derivative of wind wind1
Related formswin·now·er, nounun·win·nowed, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

stirfanscatterpuff

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.

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

  • 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

verb
  1. to separate (grain) from (chaff) by means of a wind or current of air
  2. (tr) to examine in order to select the desirable elements
  3. (tr) archaic to beat (the air) with wings
  4. (tr) rare to blow upon; fan
Show More
noun
    1. a device for winnowing
    2. the act or process of winnowing
Show More
Derived Formswinnower, noun

Word Origin

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

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."

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper