1 [fan]
any device for producing a current of air by the movement of a broad surface or a number of such surfaces.
an implement of feathers, leaves, paper, cloth, etc., often in the shape of a long triangle or of a semicircle, for waving lightly in the hand to create a cooling current of air about a person: We sat on the veranda, cooling ourselves with palm-leaf fans.
anything resembling such an implement, as the tail of a bird.
any of various devices consisting essentially of a series of radiating vanes or blades attached to and revolving with a central hublike portion to produce a current of air: ceiling fan; wall fan.
a series of revolving blades supplying air for winnowing or cleaning grain.
Horology, fly1 ( def 28 ).
a semicircular decoration of bunting.
Physical Geography. an alluvial fan.
verb (used with object), fanned, fanning.
to move or agitate (the air) with or as if with a fan.
to cause air to blow upon, as from a fan; cool or refresh with or as if with a fan: He fanned his face with a newspaper.
to stir to activity with or as if with a fan: to fan a flame; to fan emotions.
(of a breeze, current of air, etc.) to blow upon, as if driven by a fan: A cool breeze fanned the shore.
to spread out like a fan: The dealer fanned the cards.
Informal. to move (oneself) quickly: You'll fan your tail out of here if you know what's good for you.
Agriculture. to winnow, especially by an artificial current of air.
Baseball. (of a pitcher) to strike out (a batter).
Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S. to punish by spanking; spank: Your mother will fan you good if you break that dish.
verb (used without object), fanned, fanning.
to strike, swing, or brush lightly at something.
Western U.S. (chiefly cowboy use) . to slap the flanks of (a horse or other animal) repeatedly with a hat to get it to move or move faster.
to spread out like a fan (often followed by out ): The forest fire fanned out in all directions.
Baseball. (of a batter) to strike out, usually by swinging at and missing the pitch charged as the third strike.
hit the fan, Slang. to become suddenly more awkward, embarrassing, or troublesome: When news of the incident was leaked to the press, everything hit the fan at once.

before 900; Middle English, Old English fann < Latin vannus winnowing basket

fanlike, adjective
fanner, noun
unfanned, adjective Unabridged


2 [fan]
an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, celebrity, etc.: a baseball fan; a great fan of Charlie Chaplin.

1885–90, Americanism; short for fanatic

supporter, enthusiast, partisan, booster, addict.


[fan, fahn]
noun, plural Fans (especially collectively) Fan. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
fan1 (fæn)
1.  a.  any device for creating a current of air by movement of a surface or number of surfaces, esp a rotating device consisting of a number of blades attached to a central hub
 b.  a machine that rotates such a device
2.  any of various hand-agitated devices for cooling onself, esp a collapsible semicircular series of flat segments of paper, ivory, etc
3.  something shaped like such a fan, such as the tail of certain birds
4.  agriculture
 a.  a kind of basket formerly used for winnowing grain
 b.  a machine equipped with a fan for winnowing or cleaning grain
vb (often foll by out) , fans, fanning, fanned
5.  to cause a current of air, esp cool air, to blow upon, as by means of a fan: to fan one's face
6.  to agitate or move (air, smoke, etc) with or as if with a fan
7.  to make fiercer, more ardent, etc: fan one's passion
8.  to spread out or cause to spread out in the shape of a fan
9.  a.  to fire (an automatic gun) continuously by keeping the trigger depressed
 b.  to fire (a nonautomatic gun) several times by repeatedly chopping back the hammer with the palm
10.  to winnow (grain) by blowing the chaff away from it
[Old English fann, from Latin vannus]

fan2 (fæn)
1.  an ardent admirer of a pop star, film actor, football team, etc
2.  a devotee of a sport, hobby, etc
[C17, re-formed C19: from fan(atic)]

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. (W. Saxon) fann "a basket or shovel for winnowing grain" (by tossing it in the air), from L. vannus, related to ventus "wind" (see wind (n.)). The chaff, being lighter, would blow off. Sense of "device for moving air" first recorded late 14c.; the hand-held version is
first attested 1550s. Related: Fanned; fanning. To fan out "spread out like a hand-held fan," is from 1590s. A fan-light (1819) originally was shaped like a lady's fan.

1889, Amer.Eng., originally of baseball enthusiasts, probably a shortening of fanatic, but may be influenced by the Fancy (1807), a collective term for followers of a certain hobby or sport (especially boxing). There is an isolated use from 1682, but the modern word is likely a new formation.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. Fetal Alcohol Network

  2. Food Allergy Network

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Fan definition

a winnowing shovel by which grain was thrown up against the wind that it might be cleansed from broken straw and chaff (Isa. 30:24; Jer. 15:7; Matt. 3:12). (See AGRICULTURE.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with fan, also see shit will hit the fan.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
The average football fan probably has no interest at all in any of this.
It's a square fan set into the wall and vents to the outside.
As the craft then rotates, the wings start providing lift, and the fan starts
  blowing towards the back.
No one talks but for the occasional murmur, tactfully hidden behind fan or hand.
Idioms & Phrases
Image for fan
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