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A fan has two purposes – to move air for creature comfort or for ventilation and to move air or gas from one location to another for industrial purposes. Fans have broad surfaces that usually revolve. more...
Leaves or flat objects, waved to produce a more comfortable atmosphere, are the simplest kind of fan.
Applications include ornamental decorations, climate control, cooling system, refreshing air, personal wind-generation (e.g., an electric table fan), ventilation (e.g., an exhaust fan), winnowing (e.g., separating chaff of cereal grains), removing dust (e.g., sucking as in a vacuum cleaner), drying (usually in addition to heat) and to provide draft for a fire.
Old English fann referred to a basket or shovel for winnowing. It was a loan from Latin vannus, with the same meaning, derived from ventus "wind" or a related root (cf. vates). In the sense of "device for moving air" the word is first attested 1390, the hand-held version is first recorded in 1555.
Fan history stretches back thousands of years. Since antiquity, fans have possessed a dual function – a status symbol and a useful ornament. In the course of their development, fans have been made of a variety of materials and have included decorative artwork. The simplest fans are leaves or flat objects, waved to produce a cooler atmosphere. These rigid or folding hand-held implements have been used for cooling, for air circulation, as a ceremonial device, and as a sartorial accessory throughout the world from ancient times. They are still widely used.