verb (used with object)
to free (grain) from the lighter particles of chaff, dirt, etc., especially by throwing it into the air and allowing the wind or a forced current of air to blow away impurities.
to drive or blow (chaff, dirt, etc.) away by fanning.
to blow upon; fan.
to subject to some process of separating or distinguishing; analyze critically; sift: to winnow a mass of statements.
to separate or distinguish (valuable from worthless parts) (sometimes followed by out ): to winnow falsehood from truth.
to pursue (a course) with flapping wings in flying.
to fan or stir (the air) as with the wings in flying.
verb (used without object)
to free grain from chaff by wind or driven air.
to fly with flapping wings; flutter.
a device or contrivance used for winnowing.
an act of winnowing.

before 900; Middle English win(d)wen (v.), Old English windwian, derivative of wind wind1

winnower, noun
unwinnowed, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
winnow (ˈwɪnəʊ)
1.  to separate (grain) from (chaff) by means of a wind or current of air
2.  (tr) to examine in order to select the desirable elements
3.  archaic (tr) to beat (the air) with wings
4.  rare (tr) to blow upon; fan
5.  a.  a device for winnowing
 b.  the act or process of winnowing
[Old English windwian; related to Old High German wintōn, Gothic diswinthjan, Latin ventilāre. See wind1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. windwian, from wind "air in motion, paring down," see wind (n.). Cognate with O.N. vinza, O.H.G. winton "to fan, winnow," Goth. diswinþjan "to throw (grain) apart," L. vannus "winnowing fan."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Winnow definition

Corn was winnowed, (1.) By being thrown up by a shovel against the wind. As a rule this was done in the evening or during the night, when the west wind from the sea was blowing, which was a moderate breeze and fitted for the purpose. The north wind was too strong, and the east wind came in gusts. (2.) By the use of a fan or van, by which the chaff was blown away (Ruth 3:2; Isa. 30:24; Jer. 4:11, 12; Matt. 3:12).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
One reason is that there is a winnowing process before people actually go up
  for tenure.
Ultimately, that is an unreasonable question, because the process of winnowing
  them is so unappealing.
Experts have long been predicting a winnowing of the solar industry.
The photos reproduced here are the result of a painful winnowing of scores of
  marvelous images.
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