Simple Definition of sift
: to put (flour, sugar, etc.) through a sifter or sieve
: to separate or remove (something) by using a sifter or sieve
: to go through (something) very carefully in order to find something useful or valuable
Full Definition of sift
1a : to put through a sieve <sift flour>b : to separate or separate out by or as if by putting through a sieve
2 : to go through especially to sort out what is useful or valuable <sifted the evidence> —often used with through <sift through a pile of old letters>
3 : to scatter by or as if by sifting <sift sugar on a cake>
1 : to use a sieve
2 : to pass or fall as if through a sieve
Examples of sift
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl.
Sift the lumps from the sugar.
The police sifted the evidence in hopes of finding a clue.
The police sifted for clues.
The lawyer sifted through the hundreds of pages of testimony.
Firefighters sifted through the debris.
Origin of sift
Middle English, from Old English siftan; akin to Old English sife sieve
First Known Use: before 12th century
SIFT Defined for Kids
Definition of sift
1 : to pass or cause to pass through a sieve <sift flour>
2 : to separate or separate out by or as if by passing through a sieve <I sifted the lumps.>
3 : to test or examine carefully <Police will sift through the evidence.>
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up sift? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).