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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. To separate, and drive off, the chaff from by means of wind; to fan; as, to winnow grain. Ho winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing floor. (ruth. Iii. 2)

2. To sift, as for the purpose of separating falsehood from truth; to separate, as had from good. Winnow well this thought, and you shall find This light as chaff that flies before the wind. (Dryden)

3. To beat with wings, or as with wings. Now on the polar winds; then with quick fan Winnows the buxom air. (milton)

Origin: OE. Windewen, winewen, AS. Windwian; akin to Goth. Winpjan (in comp), winpi-skauro a fan, L. Ventilare to fan, to winnow; cf. L. Wannus a fan for winnowing, G. Wanne, OHG. Wanna. See Wind moving air, and cf. Fan, Ventilate.