\ 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

Your positive attitude sifts through any confusion, negativity and other such issues., "We can’t afford to replace empathy with apathy," 27 June 2018 Archaeologists scouring the grassy hillside famously trampled during the 1969 Woodstock music festival carefully sifted through the dirt from a time of peace, love, protest and good vibes. Washington Post, "Dig it: Archaeologists scour Woodstock ‘69 concert field," 21 June 2018 Glasberg sifted through a number of options before settling on a training with a San Francisco consultancy called Paradigm that’s worked with Spotify, Slack, and Airbnb. Juliana Feliciano Reyes,, "What one start-up did when it got called out for being too white," 28 May 2018 Over the next few days, investigators will sift through the evidence and examine her interpersonal relationships to find a motive and a suspect. CBS News, "Killing of suspended teacher was a "crime of passion," investigators say," 16 May 2018 As residents sift through the ashes and start the labor-intensive process of rebuilding, some neighbors and family members are hoping to help through fundraising. Lyndsay Winkley,, "Community comes together to drum up support for Alpine fire victims left homeless," 9 July 2018 Officials said humans still sift through the images to match them to people’s identities. Paul Mozur, New York Times, "Inside China’s Dystopian Dreams: A.I., Shame and Lots of Cameras," 8 July 2018 Rodney Moore said investigators are sifting through evidence from the scene and that the firearm has not been found. Richard Winton,, "Mystery at Malibu Creek park: Who killed father at campground, and is it connected to other shootings?," 26 June 2018 This will help the particles sift down among the blades, and the grass blades will grow up through a coarse fill better. Dan Gill,, "Need to fill low spots in a lawn? Here's when and how to do it," 14 Apr. 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

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for sift

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

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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 \
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

What made you want to look up sift? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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