Simple Definition of winnow
: to remove (people or things that are less important, desirable, etc.) from a larger group or list : to make (a list of possible choices) smaller by removing the less desirable choices
: to remove (the unwanted coverings of seeds) from grain by throwing the grain up in the air and letting the wind blow the unwanted parts away
Full Definition of winnow
1 a (1) : to remove (as chaff) by a current of air (2) : to get rid of (something undesirable or unwanted) : remove —often used with out <winnow out certain inaccuracies — Stanley Walker> b (1) : separate, sift <an old hand at winnowing what is true and significant — Oscar Lewis> (2) : select
2 a : to treat (as grain) by exposure to a current of air so that waste matter is eliminated b : to free of unwanted or inferior elements : pare c : narrow, reduce <winnowed the field to four contenders>
3 : to blow on : fan <the wind winnowing his thin white hair — Time>
1 : to separate chaff from grain by fanning
2 : to separate desirable and undesirable elements
Examples of winnow
The least qualified applicants were winnowed out of the initial pool.
Harvesters winnowed the chaff from the wheat.
Origin of winnow
Middle English winewen, from Old English windwian to fan, winnow; akin to Old High German wintōn to fan, Latin vannus winnowing fan, ventus wind — more at wind
First Known Use: before 12th century
Rhymes with winnow
aglow, ago, airflow, airglow, air show, alow, although, archfoe, argot, a throw, backflow, backhoe, bandeau, Baotou, barlow, bateau, below, bestow, big toe, bon mot, bravo, by-blow, cachepot, callow, caló, Carlow, cash flow, chapeau, Chi-Rho, cockcrow, Cocteau, cornrow, corn snow, crossbow, Cousteau, Darrow, Day-Glo, dayglow, death row, Defoe, de trop, deathblow, deco, down-bow, dumb show, elbow, escrow, fencerow, flambeau, floor show, flyblow, fogbow, forego, foreknow, forgo, freak show, free throw, Freneau, Fuzhou, galop, game show, genro, gigot, Glencoe, go-slow, Gounod, Guangzhou, gung ho, guyot, Hadow, Hangzhou, Hankow, Harrow, heave-ho, hedgerow, heigh-ho, hello, hollo, horse show, ice floe, ice show, inflow, in tow, Io, jabot, jambeau, Jane Doe, jim crow, Jinzhou, Joe Blow, Jiaozhou, John Doe, Juneau, Hounslow, kayo, KO, Lanzhou, lie low, light show, longbow, low blow, Luchow, macho, mahoe, maillot, mallow, manteau, Marlowe, Marot, marrow, matelot, merlot, Meursault, minnow, Miró, misknow, Moho, mojo, morceau, morrow, Moscow, mucro, mudflow, Murrow, nightglow, no-no, no-show, nouveau, oboe, outflow, outgo, outgrow, oxbow, peep show, Pernod, picot, plateau, pronto, Quanzhou, quiz show, rainbow, Rameau, red snow, reflow, regrow, repo, reseau, road show, rondeau, rondo, roscoe, Roseau, rouleau, sabot, Saint-Lô, salchow, scarecrow, self-sow, serow, shadblow, Shantou, sideshow, skid row, ski tow, Soho, so-so, sound bow, sourdough, stone's throw, sunbow, Suzhou, tableau, Taizhou, talk show, tiptoe, Thoreau, tone row, tonneau, trade show, trousseau, Trudeau, uh-oh, unsew, up-bow, upthrow, van Gogh, wallow, Wenzhou, Wicklow, widow, willow, windrow, windthrow, Winslow, Wuzhou, Xuzhou, Yalow, yarrow, Zhangzhou, Zhengzhou, Zibo
Definition of winnow
1 : a device for winnowing
2 a : the action of winnowing b : a motion resembling that of winnowing
First Known Use of winnow
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