- 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, fan·ning.
- 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, fan·ning.
- 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.
- 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
- a machine that rotates such a device
- any of various hand-agitated devices for cooling onself, esp a collapsible semicircular series of flat segments of paper, ivory, etc
- something shaped like such a fan, such as the tail of certain birds
- a kind of basket formerly used for winnowing grain
- a machine equipped with a fan for winnowing or cleaning grain
verb fans, fanning or fanned (mainly tr)
- to cause a current of air, esp cool air, to blow upon, as by means of a fanto fan one’s face
- to agitate or move (air, smoke, etc) with or as if with a fan
- to make fiercer, more ardent, etcfan one’s passion
- (also intr often foll by out) to spread out or cause to spread out in the shape of a fan
- to fire (an automatic gun) continuously by keeping the trigger depressed
- to fire (a nonautomatic gun) several times by repeatedly chopping back the hammer with the palm
- to winnow (grain) by blowing the chaff away from it
- an ardent admirer of a pop star, film actor, football team, etc
- a devotee of a sport, hobby, etc
device to make an air current, Old English fann (West Saxon) “a basket or shovel for winnowing grain” (by tossing it in the air), from Latin vannus, related to ventus “wind” (see wind (n.1)).
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. A fan-light (1819) was shaped like a lady’s fan.
“devotee,” 1889, American English, originally of baseball enthusiasts, probably a shortening of fanatic, but may be influenced by the fancy, a collective term for followers of a certain hobby or sport (especially boxing); see fancy. There is an isolated use from 1682, but the modern word is likely a late 19c. formation. Fan club attested by 1930.
late Old English fannian “to winnow grain,” from the noun (see fan (n.1)). Meaning “to stir up air” is from early 15c. Related: Fanned; fanning. To fan out “spread out like a hand-held fan,” is from 1590s.
In addition to the idiom beginning with fan
- fan the flames
- shit will hit the fan