from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A device for creating a current of air or a breeze, especially.
  • noun A machine using an electric motor to rotate thin, rigid vanes in order to move air, as for cooling.
  • noun A collapsible, usually wedge-shaped device made of a light material such as silk, paper, or plastic.
  • noun A machine for winnowing.
  • noun Something resembling an open fan in shape.
  • intransitive verb To move or cause a current of (air) with or as if with a fan.
  • intransitive verb To direct a current of air or a breeze upon, especially in order to cool.
  • intransitive verb To stir (something) up by or as if by fanning.
  • intransitive verb To open (something) out into the shape of a fan.
  • intransitive verb To fire (an automatic gun) in a continuous sweep by keeping one's finger on the trigger.
  • intransitive verb To fire (a nonautomatic gun) rapidly by chopping the hammer with the palm.
  • intransitive verb To winnow.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To strike out (a batter).
  • intransitive verb To spread out like a fan.
  • intransitive verb Baseball To strike out.
  • noun An ardent devotee; an enthusiast.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In projective geometry, one of the flat pencils which are determined by the sides of a polygram.
  • To cool and refresh, or affect in any way, by agitating the air with or as with a fan.
  • To move or agitate with or as with a fan.
  • To blow upon, literally or figuratively; excite, as fire, by means of a current of air.
  • To winnow; separate chaff from and drive it away by a current of air.
  • Figuratively, to produce effects upon analogous to those of a fan in exciting flame; excite; increase the activity or ardor of; stimulate; inflame: said of the passions and emotions, of plots, etc.: as, this fanned the flame of his love; he fanned the embers of rebellion.
  • To move, as if by the action of a fan or by fanning.
  • To assume a fanlike shape.
  • To “cool with a club”; club, as policemen sometimes club refractory prisoners.
  • To strike at something (as a base-ball) without hitting it; fan the air.
  • To strike out, as in base-ball.
  • noun One who is very enthusiastic on the subject of athletic sports, especially base-ball; one who haunts base-ball grounds and base-ball games; a base-ball ‘fiend.’
  • noun The common name of instruments for producing agitation of the air by the movements of a broad surface, as of a wing or vane.
  • noun Any contrivance of vanes or flat disks, revolved by machinery or by hand, as for winnowing grain, cooling fluids, urging combustion, promoting ventilation, etc.
  • noun A small vane or sail used to keep the large sails of a windmill always in the direction of the wind.
  • noun An apparatus for regulating or checking, by the resistance of the air to its rapid motion, the velocity of light machinery, as in a musical box; a fly.
  • noun An apparatus, also called the fan-governor, for regulating the throttle-valve of a steam-engine.
  • noun In soapmanuf., a rotating paddle, so set that its blades skim closely over the surface of the boiling mass in the soap-copper. It serves to prevent the contents of the copper from boiling over.
  • noun Something resembling a fan when spread, as the wing of a bird, the tail of a peacock, etc.
  • noun In geology, an accumulation of debris brought down by a stream descending through a steep ravine and debouching in the plain beneath, where the detrital material spreads itself out in the shape of a fan, forming a section of a very low cone.
  • noun . A quintain.
  • noun Figuratively, any agency which excites to action or which stimulates the activity of a passion or an emotion, producing effects analogous to those of a fan in exciting flame: as, this was a fan to rebellion; a fan to love.
  • noun In Arthropoda, an appendage of the abdomen, as in the tail of Mysis, which may contain an auditory organ.
  • noun A measure of chaff, in Cambridgeshire, England, equal to 3 heaped bushels.
  • noun The flukes of a whale: a whalers'term.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To move as with a fan.
  • transitive verb To cool and refresh, by moving the air with a fan; to blow the air on the face of with a fan.
  • transitive verb To ventilate; to blow on; to affect by air put in motion.
  • transitive verb To winnow; to separate chaff from, and drive it away by a current of air.
  • transitive verb To excite or stir up to activity, as a fan excites a flame; to stimulate.
  • transitive verb a machine for separating seed from chaff, etc., by a blast of air; a fanner.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, winnowing fan, from Old English fann, from Latin vannus; see wet- in Indo-European roots.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Short for fanatic.]


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  • Citation on drone.

    June 22, 2008