\ˈsift \
sifted; sifting; sifts

Definition of sift 

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

1 : to use a sieve

2 : to pass or fall as if through a sieve

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Other Words from sift

sifter noun

Examples of sift in a Sentence

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Using a coarse wire-mesh sieve, sift a very fine (⅛-inch) layer of dry potting mix over the seeds. Willi Evans Galloway, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Microgreens Indoors at Home," 22 Aug. 2018 But Tan certainly has enough bandwidth to handle these heavy topics, sifting them through a single family with forlorn honesty and compassion. Grace Z. Li, USA TODAY, "Chinese-American expat family drama sparks Lucy Tan's promising debut novel," 10 July 2018 Using online tutorials and YouTube videos, Carlisle taught himself how to sift out patterns and anomalies. Samantha Schmidt, ajc, "Why a major paper on the Mediterranean diet was just retracted and replaced," 14 June 2018 Bulldozers pulled ashes into small piles for rescue crews to sift through. NBC News, "Guatemala volcano survivor searches for 46 missing family members," 7 June 2018 Superintendent Robert Runcie has blamed the state of the system’s record-keeping system for the Promise error and said further disclosures about Cruz may come out, as the district sifts through its files. David Fleshler,, "Stoneman Douglas commission wants more answers on controversial Promise program," 7 June 2018 Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and a former staff secretary to President George W. Bush, has left a long paper trail to sift for clues. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Does Brett Kavanaugh think the president is immune from criminal charges?," 11 July 2018 The new approach is likely to depend heavily on measures to prevent migrants getting anywhere near Europe, patrolling the continent’s exterior border more carefully, and sifting out migrants with genuine asylum claims in camps in North Africa. Chris Cottrell, The Christian Science Monitor, "Immigration deal saves German government, points to European future," 9 July 2018 This isn’t all that new for anyone sifting Amazon for a shirt or chatting with a Facebook pal., "When a TV starts viewing you," 6 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sift.' 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 sift

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

History and Etymology for sift

Middle English, from Old English siftan; akin to Old English sife sieve

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Dictionary Entries near sift



sifrei torah





Statistics for sift

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sift

The first known use of sift was before the 12th century

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English Language Learners 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


\ˈsift \
sifted; sifting

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.

Other Words from sift

sifter noun

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Comments on sift

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by force of circumstances

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