fan

1 of 3

noun (1)

1
: any of various devices for winnowing grain
2
: an instrument for producing a current of air: such as
a
: a device that is held in the hand and moved back and forth to cool a person and that is usually shaped like a segment of a circle and composed of material (such as feathers or paper) mounted on thin rods or slats moving about a pivot so that the device may be closed compactly when not in use
b
: a device that consists of a series of vanes radiating from a hub rotated on its axle by a motor
a ceiling fan to stir the air
c
slang : an airplane propeller
3
a
: something resembling an open fan (such as the leaf of certain palms)
b
: a gently sloping fan-shaped body of detritus
especially : alluvial fan
fanlike adjective

fan

2 of 3

verb

fanned; fanning

transitive verb

1
a
: to drive away the chaff of (grain) by means of a current of air
b
: to eliminate (chaff) by winnowing
2
: to move or impel (air) with a fan
3
: to blow or breathe upon
the breeze fanning her hair
4
a
: to direct a current of air upon with a fan
b
: to stir up to activity as if by fanning : stimulate
fanning the fires of nationalism
5
archaic : wave
6
slang : spank
7
: to spread like a fan
the peacock fanned his tail
8
: to strike (a batter) out in baseball
9
: to fire a series of shots from (a single-action revolver) by holding the trigger back and successively striking the hammer to the rear with the free hand

intransitive verb

1
: to move like a fan : flutter
2
: to spread like a fan
often used with out
the searchers fanned out
3
fanner noun

fan

3 of 3

noun (2)

1
: an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator
2
: an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit)
science-fiction fans

Did you know?

The Fanatical Origin of Fan

There are a good number of etymological myths in the English language, stories about the origins of words (such as the widespread notion that posh originated as an acronym for “port out, starboard home”) which are, to put it kindly, inaccurate. But this does not mean that every vivid account of linguistic origin is fictitious. Many words, such as fan, do have colorful backstories.

Fan is generally–and very likely correctly–believed to be a shortened form of fanatic. The origin of fanatic (which can be traced back to the Latin word fanum, meaning “sanctuary, temple”) is less often commented on. In English, fan made an early appearance in the late 17th century only to disappear for two centuries, resurfacing in the late 19th century. In this later period of use, it often referred to the devoted observers of, or participants in, a sport. An 1885 article from The Kansas City Times, for example, contains the line “The base ball ‘fans’ of the ploice [sic] force and fire department engage in a ball game.”

Example Sentences

Verb He fanned himself with a newspaper while he waited for the bus. The pitcher has fanned six batters in the first three innings. The batter fanned on a curveball.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English, from Old English fann, from Latin vannus — more at winnow

Noun (2)

probably short for fanatic

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fan was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near fan

Cite this Entry

“Fan.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fan. Accessed 4 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

fan 1 of 3

noun

1
: an instrument for producing a current of air: as
a
: a device that is often in the shape of a section of a circle and is waved back and forth by hand
b
: a device with a set of rotating blades driven by a motor
2
: something shaped like a hand fan
fanlike adjective

fan

2 of 3

verb

fanned; fanning
1
: to move air with a fan
2
a
: to direct a current of air upon with a fan
b
: to stir up to activity as if by fanning
3
: to spread out or move like a fan
4
: to strike out in baseball
fanner noun

fan

3 of 3

noun

: an enthusiastic follower or admirer

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