winnow

To winnow is to blow something away until you are left with what you want, like grain from chaff. If you only want your favorite people to attend your party, you will need to winnow down the guest list from 300 to 30.

To winnow is to use air to “separate the wheat from the chaff" — literally or figuratively. If a coach winnows down the top NBA draft picks to his number one choice, then he'll focus his negotiations on that player. Chances are, if you encounter the word winnow on a given day, it is probably not in the literal context of grain.

Definitions of winnow
  1. noun
    the act of separating grain from chaff
    synonyms: sifting, winnowing
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    type of:
    separation
    sorting one thing from others
  2. verb
    separate the chaff from by using air currents
    “She stood there winnowing chaff all day in the field”
    synonyms: fan
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    type of:
    sieve, sift, strain
    separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements
  3. verb
    blow on
    “The wind was winnowing her hair”
    “the wind winnowed the grass”
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    type of:
    fan
    agitate the air
  4. verb
    blow away or off with a current of air
    winnow chaff”
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    type of:
    remove, take, take away, withdraw
    remove something concrete, as by lifting, pushing, or taking off, or remove something abstract
  5. verb
    select desirable parts from a group or list
    winnow the finalists from the long list of applicants”
    synonyms: cull out
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    type of:
    choose, pick out, select, take
    pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives
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