winnow

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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 from (something)

1. To use a current of wind or air to separate grain from chaff. A noun or pronoun, especially "grain," is used between "winnow" and "from." The revolutionary new machine promises to winnow grain from chaff much more efficiently. Before they had mechanical means, farmers had to rely on the wind to winnow chaff and other debris away.
2. To select the most capable, desirable, or viable persons or things from a group, discarding the rest. A noun or pronoun is used between "winnow" and "from." The grueling nature of these exams in meant to winnow the best or most serious medical students from those who don't have what it takes to succeed. The committee will winnow the strongest applications from weakest.
See also: winnow

winnow out

1. To use a current of air to blow chaff away from grain. A noun or pronoun can be used between "winnow" and "out." The revolutionary new machine promises to winnow out 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 out.
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 "out." The grueling nature of these exams in meant to test the learning of up-and-coming doctors, as well as winnow out those who don't have the determination and resilience. The committee will first winnow the weakest applicants out 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 out any problems with logic or evidence.
3. To select the most capable, desirable, or viable persons or things from a group, discarding the rest. A noun or pronoun can used between "winnow" and "out." Our application process already brings in the brightest the country has to offer, so our interview process has to winnow out the very best of the best. A good editor can winnow out the best parts of a manuscript while discarding or reshaping what doesn't work as well.
4. 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 "out." The company always takes on a large number of interns each summer, winnowing it out 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: out, winnow
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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

winnow out

v.
1. To separate some material, such as chaff, from grain by means of a current of air: The farmer winnows out the chaff with a machine. There is always some debris in the harvest, but we winnow it out.
2. To separate or get rid of some unfit or undesirable part; eliminate something or someone: The lions tend to winnow out the sick antelope. The political process will winnow the weakest candidates out.
3. To sort or select some fit or desirable part; extract someone or something: We winnowed out the top candidates from the rest and interviewed them. There are only a few good pieces of wood in this shipment, and it will take a long time to winnow them out.
4. To rid some group of unfit or undesirable members: The test winnowed out the applicant pool.
See also: out, winnow
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Listen to the call and winnowing of the Wilson's Snipe through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" website at: www.AllAboutBirds.org/ guide/wilsons snipe.
Instead of three groups that flow from Paring to Winnowing to Building, they saw, instead, four discrete and independent groups, Parers, Winnowers, Builders, and Dual-Channel students.
He noted that "speech codes are totally inconsistent with the sifting and winnowing tradition," adding that "guests on the Jay Lend show probably fear censorship less than UW professors."
The evolution of global agriculture has been a process of winnowing and refining, removing parts that do not contribute to the imperatives of shape, yield and appearance that communities and markets generally impose.
In winnowing down the choices, May and project engineer Jeffrey Sciutto highlighted the claims made in each OEM's proposal that were most relevant to the buying decision.
He discusses the burden on the police, courts, and prisons; the inefficiencies, violent crime, and lost tax revenue of the black market; and the winnowing of both civil liberties and respect for the law.
The Solomon Organization, owner and manager of more than 14,000 multi-family units, expanded its Southeast Portfolio with the acquisition of the 240-Unit Gregorie Ferry Landing at 1240 Winnowing Way in the Charleston suburb of Mount Pleasant, S.C.
The Winnowing Oar - New Perspectives in Homeric Studies: Studies in Honor of Antonios Rengakos
The long stalks were then raked away and winnowing forks, shovels or baskets were used to throw the grain, chaff and other debris into the air so the heavier grain kernels could fall back onto the threshing floor while the lighter material was blown away by the wind.
But with immigration minister Damien Green winnowing away about our "tolerant andmutually respectful society" and calling a vote "undesirable," just expect more of the same old same old.
In median strips Beside shut Volvo windows, Along the routes of our endlessly going These orphans and these vegetables, These fruits and these orphans In our country, in our America With supplications and with foreign mouths With winnowing eyes, and with calloused hands Every day ripening, on every corner.
Rudolph served as juror for the show, winnowing 300 entries down to 88 of the best ones.
That this should have happened because of a Senator from Wisconsin was all the more ironic in light of the ringing statement of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents many years ago that it is only through "the sifting and winnowing" of ideas that the truth may be found.