\ ˈsift How to pronounce sift (audio) \
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 When sand and clay mix together, the tiny clay particles sift in between the spaces between the sandy pieces, filling them up. oregonlive, "Adding sand to clay soil could make drainage issue worse: Ask an expert," 6 Feb. 2021 The company’s software can sift through enormous amounts of data, and those metrics can be used to make life-or-death decisions. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "How I tripled my money in bitcoin—then lost almost half of it," 22 Jan. 2021 The riots were a multimedia affair, an enormous text to sift through for signs of what’s to come, and—like much of the press and law enforcement—that’s what Perkins and others in the Q community have been occupied with uncovering ever since. Melissa Gira Grant, The New Republic, "QAnon and the Cultification of the American Right," 1 Feb. 2021 These aircraft take off from Naval Air Station North Island most days, turn south and scan their unblinking digital eyes across the waters, trying to sift smuggling craft from the rest. New York Times, "Risking Everything to Come to America on the Open Ocean," 28 Jan. 2021 Walmart Walmart has a ton of sleds and snow tubes to sift through. Courtney Campbell, USA TODAY, "The 8 best places you can buy sleds and snow tubes," 25 Jan. 2021 There is a lot more to sift through with Wintson in a general sense. Luke Johnson,, "Sean Payton addressed Saints' potential future at QB: 'We have a really good room'," 21 Jan. 2021 A few miles away, the only line at the Crenshaw mall was outside Bath & Body Works, where customers waited more than an hour to sift through the company’s sale on candles, which have been a hot item during the pandemic. Los Angeles Times, "‘This mall has been devastated.’ A lean Christmas, empty stores and an unsettling future," 22 Dec. 2020 Combined with a group of freshmen from this season that includes Javon Baker and Thaiu Jones-Bell, the Tide will have some young yet unproven talent to sift through at receiver in preparing for the 2021 season. Mike Rodak |, al, "Does 2021 class have a shot to be Nick Saban’s best?," 17 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for sift

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for sift

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for sift



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 How to pronounce sift (audio) \
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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More from Merriam-Webster on sift

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for sift

Nglish: Translation of sift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sift for Arabic Speakers

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