\ 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 throughsift 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 For those willing to sift patiently through the sediment, there are gems. Jessica Hooten Wilson, National Review, "A New Collection of Letters Feeds the Hunger for More Flannery O’Connor," 24 Oct. 2019 Use a leaf rake, shovel, or specialized sand flea rake to sift through the wet sand and collect them. Bob Mcnally, Field & Stream, "The Ultimate Guide to Catching and Keeping Saltwater Live Bait," 2 Jan. 2020 Producing the Daily Obsession requires us to sift through facts and statistics about everything from bananas to faraday cages, to tease out a deeper story. Annaliese Griffin, Quartz, "The Quartz Daily Obsession trivia: a treat for the curious mind," 24 Dec. 2019 There is the space and time to sift through all of the elements of a project while creating a tactile experience that stays with us. Time, "TIME's 30 Best Photobooks of 2019," 21 Dec. 2019 Much of that work involves training computers to sift through mountains of patient data to pluck out patterns invisible to even the most skilled cardiologists. Casey Ross, STAT, "At Mayo Clinic, AI engineers face an ‘acid test’: Will their algorithms help real patients?," 18 Dec. 2019 Strong to severe storms continued to roll across parts of south Alabama on Tuesday morning as those farther north prepared to sift through storm damage. Leigh Morgan, al, "National Weather Service heading out to count tornadoes today," 17 Dec. 2019 Code for America’s program was slated to sift through state and county data to identify which records are eligible to be expunged, then complete paperwork for prosecutors to submit to judges who can opt to formally throw out the convictions. Megan Crepeau,, "State’s Attorney Kim Foxx kicks off effort to expunge tens of thousands of minor marijuana convictions," 11 Dec. 2019 Corban got to crush the candies, Haddon got to dump in the ingredients (measured by me) and Mara got to sift them. Alison Sherwood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Cookie baking with kids is the stuff of memories ... and a test of patience," 3 Dec. 2019

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

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sift.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

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More Definitions for sift


How to pronounce sift (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with sift

Spanish Central: Translation of sift

Nglish: Translation of sift for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of sift for Arabic Speakers

Comments on sift

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not to be intimidated or subdued

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