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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Winnow \Win"now\ (w[i^]n"n[-o]), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Winnowed (w[i^]n"n[-o]d); p. pr. & vb. n. Winnowing.] [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. [root]131. See Wind moving air, and cf. Fan., n., Ventilate.] [1913 Webster] 1. To separate, and drive off, the chaff from by means of wind; to fan; as, to winnow grain. [1913 Webster] Ho winnoweth barley to-night in the threshing floor. --Ruth. iii. 2. [1913 Webster] 2. To sift, as for the purpose of separating falsehood from truth; to separate, as bad from good. [1913 Webster] Winnow well this thought, and you shall find This light as chaff that flies before the wind. --Dryden. [1913 Webster] 3. To beat with wings, or as with wings.[Poetic] [1913 Webster] Now on the polar winds; then with quick fan Winnows the buxom air. --Milton. [1913 Webster]