filter

noun
fil·​ter | \ ˈfil-tər How to pronounce filter (audio) \

Definition of filter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a porous article or mass (as of paper or sand) through which a gas or liquid is passed to separate out matter in suspension
b : an apparatus containing a filter medium
2a : a device or material for suppressing or minimizing waves or oscillations of certain frequencies (as of electricity, light, or sound)
b : a transparent material (such as colored glass) that absorbs light of certain wavelengths or colors selectively and is used for modifying light that reaches a sensitized photographic material

called also color filter

3 : something that has the effect of a filter (as by holding back elements or modifying the appearance of something) his work is too often viewed through the filter of race— Brent Staples
4 : software for sorting or blocking access to certain online material

filter

verb
filtered; filtering\ ˈfil-​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce filtering (audio) \

Definition of filter (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to subject to the action of a filter
2 : to remove by means of a filter

intransitive verb

1 : to pass or move through or as if through a filter
2 : to come or go in small units over a period of time people began filtering in

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Synonyms for filter

Synonyms: Verb

screen, strain

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Examples of filter in a Sentence

Noun

She smokes cigarettes with filters. He placed a red filter on the camera lens. digital filters that stop high-frequency sounds

Verb

They've begun filtering their water to remove impurities. a device that filters impurities from water sunglasses that filter ultraviolet light Sunlight filtered through the leaves. His ideas have filtered down to his children. The crowd filtered into the arena. Early election returns have begun to filter in.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The color is desaturated and full of contrast, cast in an eerie turquoise pall, as if through a murky Instagram filter. Katie Walsh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Ready or Not’ sacrifices horror for irony and laughs to skewer the 1 percent," 22 Aug. 2019 The color is desaturated and full of contrast, cast in an eerie turquoise pall, as if through a murky Instagram filter. Katie Walsh, Twin Cities, "1-percenter slasher flick ‘Ready or Not’ too sardonic to be taken seriously as satire," 20 Aug. 2019 The color is desaturated and full of contrast, cast in an eerie turquoise pall, as if through a murky Instagram filter. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Ready or Not’ sacrifices horror for irony and laughs to skewer the 1 percent," 19 Aug. 2019 But there’s so much more than H2O in that small plastic bottle. Dr. Stoeckle pours the fluid through a special filter atop a glass contraption that looks a bit like a pour-over coffee maker. Amanda Paulson, The Christian Science Monitor, "Message in a bottle: Forensics meets marine science with eDNA," 15 Aug. 2019 This year’s MLB Players’ Weekend jerseys will show the world through a black and white filter. Paul Lukas, SI.com, "Welcome to the Uni-Verse: Explore the World of Athletics Aesthetics with Uni Watch," 13 Aug. 2019 Yellow filters on my lenses and dive mask block the stimulating blue light, enabling me to see and capture the full extent of the psychedelic spectacle. Smithsonian, "Amazing Photos Reveal the Hidden Light of Undersea Life," 25 July 2019 The light filters through the streets like a stream through reeds. Anne Farrar, National Geographic, "Here’s why everyone is going to Portugal now," 18 June 2019 Favorite Instagram filters: Clarendon, Valencia, X-Pro II. WSJ, "Busy Philipps Reveals What’s on Her iPhone," 10 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The new power plant does not require ocean water cooling, but the lagoon will continue to be dredged by the owners of the Carlsbad desalination plant, which filters water from the lagoon for tap water distributed countywide. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Man pushes preservation of 400-foot-tall coastal smokestack," 8 Sep. 2019 Tom Robertson While fairgoers filtered in and out of the Green Gate entrance, Tom Robertson was busy carving. Samantha Davenport, Anchorage Daily News, "Daredevils, funnel cake, bonsai: Scenes from the Alaska State Fair," 29 Aug. 2019 Once the match had finished and supporters had filtered out of the stadium, Red Star's squad hopped in the military vehicle and paraded it through Belgrade. SI.com, "Red Star Belgrade Players Ride Army Tank During Wild Celebrations After Champions League Win," 29 Aug. 2019 The underlying message is that human involvement could risk biases or subjectivity, so critical projects like filtering out hate speech must have at least minor human involvement. Sidney Fussell, The Atlantic, "Facebook Wants You to Focus on the Humans," 22 Aug. 2019 Some filtered their water samples down to micron-scale particles, others included particles 100 times bigger than that. Matt Simon, WIRED, "You’ve Been Drinking Microplastics, But Don’t Worry—Yet," 21 Aug. 2019 British psychologist Sir Frederic Bartlett realised in the early 20th century that these errors typically reflect a person’s beliefs about missing or uncertain information filtering into the original message. Simon Cropper, Quartz, "Why do different cultures see such similar meanings in the stars?," 21 Aug. 2019 The city of Newark released a fact sheet on August 16 that said recent tests showed water filters provided by the city government in two homes might not be completely effective in filtering out lead levels in the city's water. Katie Ross Dominick, CBS News, "2020 Daily Trail Markers: Democratic Senate campaign arm raises $4.8 million in July," 20 Aug. 2019 Due to this, Sarah's kidneys often grow cysts, which can disrupt her kidneys from doing their job, filtering waste from the blood. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Fans That Watched the 'Teen Choice Awards' Want to Know if 'Modern Family' Star Sarah Hyland is Pregnant," 14 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'filter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of filter

Noun

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

1576, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for filter

Noun

Middle English filtre, from Medieval Latin filtrum piece of felt used as a filter, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German filz felt — more at felt

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Statistics for filter

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for filter

The first known use of filter was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for filter

filter

noun

English Language Learners Definition of filter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a device that is used to remove something unwanted from a liquid or gas that passes through it
: a device that prevents some kinds of light, sound, electronic noises, etc., from passing through
computers : software that prevents someone from looking at or receiving particular kinds of material through the Internet

filter

verb

English Language Learners Definition of filter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to pass (something, such as a gas or liquid) through a filter to remove something unwanted
: to remove (something unwanted) by using a filter
: to move through or into something in small amounts or in a gradual way

filter

noun
fil·​ter | \ ˈfil-tər How to pronounce filter (audio) \

Kids Definition of filter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a device or a mass of material (as sand or paper) with tiny openings through which a gas or liquid is passed to remove something The filter removes dust from the air.
2 : a transparent material that absorbs light of some colors and is used for changing light (as in photography)

filter

verb
filtered; filtering

Kids Definition of filter (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to pass through a filter filter water
2 : to remove by means of a filter Sand helps filter impurities from water.

filter

noun
fil·​ter | \ ˈfil-tər How to pronounce filter (audio) \

Medical Definition of filter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a porous article or mass (as of paper or sand) through which a gas or liquid is passed to separate out matter in suspension
2 : an apparatus containing a filter medium
3a : a device or material for suppressing or minimizing waves or oscillations of certain frequencies (as of electricity, light, or sound)
b : a transparent material (as colored glass) that absorbs light of certain wavelengths or colors selectively and is used for modifying light that reaches a sensitized photographic material

called also color filter

filter

verb
filtered; filtering\ -​t(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce filtering (audio) \

Medical Definition of filter (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to subject to the action of a filter
2 : to remove by means of a filter

intransitive verb

: to pass or move through or as if through a filter

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More from Merriam-Webster on filter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with filter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for filter

Spanish Central: Translation of filter

Nglish: Translation of filter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of filter for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about filter

Comments on filter

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