Etymology
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winnow (v.)

late 14c., from Old English windwian "to fan, winnow," 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."

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Definitions of winnow
1
winnow (v.)
separate the chaff from grain by using air currents;
She stood there winnowing grain all day in the field
winnow (v.)
blow on;
The wind was winnowing her hair
the wind winnowed the grass
winnow (v.)
select desirable parts from a group or list;
winnow the finalists from the long list of applicants
Synonyms: cull out
winnow (v.)
blow away or off with a current of air;
winnow chaff
Synonyms: fan
2
winnow (n.)
the act of separating grain from chaff;
the winnowing was done by women
Synonyms: winnowing / sifting
From wordnet.princeton.edu