winnow away

winnow away

1. To use a current of air to blow chaff away from grain. A noun or pronoun can be used between "winnow" and "away." The revolutionary new machine promises to winnow away chaff much faster with a lower percentage of grain being lost or destroyed in the process. Before they had mechanical means, farmers had to rely on the wind to winnow chaff and other debris away.
2. To filter out and remove persons or things that are unfit, unwanted, or unreliable. A noun or pronoun can be used between "winnow" and "away." The grueling nature of these exams in meant to test the learning of up-and-coming doctors, as well as winnow away those who don't have the determination and resilience. The committee will first winnow the weakest applicants away before beginning to seriously examine those who might be accepted into the university. We'll subject your thesis to a panel of professors in order to winnow away any problems with logic or evidence.
3. To cause a group to become smaller by removing the least able or desirable people or things from it. A noun or pronoun can be used between "winnow" and "away." The company always takes on a large number of interns each summer, winnowing it away until only the most capable remain to be given work full time. Natural selection winnows out the population of animals, leaving behind those with the traits necessary to withstand the environment and its predators.
See also: away, winnow

winnow away

v.
1. To remove some material, such as chaff, from grain by means of a current of air: Modern machines can winnow away all the chaff very efficiently. The farmers winnow the chaff away by flinging the grain into the air with a large blanket.
2. To get rid of some unfit or undesirable part; eliminate something or someone: The process will winnow away the weakest candidates. The editor winnowed most of the errors away.
3. To reduce some group by separating or eliminating the unfit or undesirable part: The process winnowed away the field of candidates.
4. To remove some material from a mixture by means of a current of air or water: The wind has winnowed away the sand from the soil. Water currents pick up mud from the riverbank and winnow it away, exposing the rock.
See also: away, winnow
References in periodicals archive ?
(And as the driver won't have anything to do, perhaps a little Zen gardening would help winnow away the time.)
With "how to" knowledge, negatives will winnow away, yet do stay alert to the "real" bad stuff happening, so we can change if needed.
Even if you don't believe market rates will move higher, there is plenty to be worried about in the riskier segments of the corporate bond markets, where issuers have taken the opportunity to again winnow away the strictures that have traditionally protected investors.
"Governor Romney said we take care of the growth side, lower tax side and winnow away the inefficiencies, find the inefficiencies in the federal government, the federal budget, that's how we bring down the deficit and get the economy going," Madden said.
Flow degassing, though seemingly counterintuitive, uses gentle swirls of dry gas to winnow away moisture and contaminants.
The cumulative effect may be to gradually winnow away the low-end but steady funds from bibliographic checking.