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winnow

Syllabification: win·now
Pronunciation: /ˈwinō
 
/

Definition of winnow in English:

verb

1 [with object] Blow a current of air through (grain) in order to remove the chaff.
Example sentences
  • As, when grain is shaken and winnowed by fans and other instruments used in the threshing of corn, the close and heavy particles are borne away and settle in one direction, and the loose and light particles in another.
  • A person in clean moccasins then ‘danced the rice’ treading on it to remove the hull and then tossing it into the air to winnow the chaff.
1.1Remove (chaff) from grain: women winnow the chaff from piles of unhusked rice
More example sentences
  • The chaff is winnowed out by the activities of millions of independent actions.
  • After all the grain have been removed from the mahangu heads this grain must be winnowed to remove the husks.
  • Also you may occasionally see her out in the fields helping her mother, Memnet, crush and winnow the grain.
1.2Remove (people or things) from a group until only the best ones are left: the contenders had been winnowed to five guidelines that would help winnow out those not fit to be soldiers
More example sentences
  • She contends that women winnow competing ideas less through hostile scrutiny than by getting inside another's mind, and often by way of friendly conversation.
  • You spend the vast majority of your time winnowing the application pile - i.e., finding reasons not to hire someone.
1.3Find or identify (a valuable or useful part of something): amidst this welter of confusing signals, it’s difficult to winnow out the truth
More example sentences
  • To the extent that the FDA has helped winnow the mainstream drug market down to scientifically proven treatments, it has been a help rather than hindrance.
  • Analysts attempt to winnow a few kernels of truth from a mass of falsehood in order to construct a comprehensible mosaic from a swiftly flowing stream of uncertain data.
  • His distaste for hypotheses is the natural reaction of a man in possession of a far superior instrument for winnowing truth from error.
2 [no object] literary (Of the wind) blow: the autumn wind winnowing its way through the grass
2.1 [with object] (Of a bird) fan (the air) with wings.

Origin

Old English windwian, from wind (see wind1).

More
  • wind from (Old English):

    A word from an Indo-European root that also gave us Latin ventus, the source of vent (Late Middle English) and ventilate (Late Middle English). Winnow, windwian in Old English, is to use the wind to separate grain and chaff. To get wind of something comes from the idea of hunted animal picking up the scent of a hunter. The phrase wind of change was used by Harold Macmillan, British prime minister 1957–63, during a speech he made in Cape Town in 1960: ‘The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and, whether we like it or not, this growth of [African] national consciousness is a political fact.’ See also ill. For the differently pronounced verb see wand

Derivatives

winnower

1
noun

Words that rhyme with winnow

minnow

Definition of winnow in:

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