Definition of winnow
1a (1) : to remove (something, such 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 Walkerb (1) : separate, sift an old hand at winnowing what is true and significant — Oscar Lewis (2) : select
2a : to treat (something, such as grain) by exposure to a current of air so that waste matter is eliminatedb : to free of unwanted or inferior elements : parec : 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
winnowerplay \ˈwi-nə-wər\ noun
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Examples of winnow in a Sentence
The least qualified applicants were winnowed out of the initial pool.
Harvesters winnowed the chaff from the wheat.
Recent Examples of winnow from the Web
With the revolution that swept Fidel & Co. into Cuba on January 1, 1959, Kurlansky goes full reporter, trying to winnow fact from fiction and myth.
In the two-part season premiere, when the field was winnowed from 50 to 20, Newton earned his white apron by wowing chefs Gordon Ramsay and Christina Tosi with a batch of chocolate cupcakes.
Instead, Trump's election led to a list of 21 potential conservative successors, eventually winnowed to one.
The Second One-on-One Date Rachel winnows Bryan from the herd of men and takes him to the top of the world to rappel down from the Holmenkollbakken ski jump while making analogies to marriage.
When Sega dropped out of the market in 2001, the contest winnowed to three primary entrants: Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
Rita Ora hosts the competition, which begins with a two-hour episode that winnows 30 competitors down to 18 who will advance to the next round.
There’s no Luke Kuechly here, but the staff is going to have a difficult time winnowing this group for final roster cuts.
The recession winnowed all of them but Avimor and Spring Valley.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'winnow'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
winnow Has Old English Roots
Beginning as windwian in Old English, winnow first referred to the removal of chaff from grain by a current of air. This use was soon extended to describe the removal of anything undesirable or unwanted (a current example of this sense would be "winnowing out outdated information"). People then began using the word for the selection of the most desirable elements (as in "winnowing out the true statements from the lies"). The association of winnow with the movement of air led to the meaning "to beat with or as if with wings," but that use is rare enough that it is found only in Merriam-Webster Unabridged. The word's last meaning ("to blow on or fan") blew in at the turn of the 19th century.
Definition of winnow
1 : a device for winnowing
2a : the action of winnowingb : a motion resembling that of winnowing
First Known Use of winnow
WINNOW Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of winnow for English Language Learners
: 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
WINNOW Defined for Kids
Definition of winnow for Students
1 : to remove (as waste from grain) by a current of air
2 : to sort or separate from a larger group
Seen and Heard
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