\ 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

Beachcombers love sifting through the sands along the coast looking for beautiful, if not valuable treasure. Danny Hermosillo, Houston Chronicle, "Message in a bottle floats 2,300 miles, lands on Bolivar Peninsula," 8 July 2019 But the flood of questionable posts is overwhelming, and sifting through it can take a psychological toll. Neima Jahromi, The New Yorker, "The Fight for the Future of YouTube," 8 July 2019 Crews sifted through 2 million pounds of garbage by hand, police said. Phil Helsel, NBC News, "Body believed to be missing Virginia 2-year-old Noah Tomlin found," 4 July 2019 Be patient and sift through all the data to help identify future top-performers. Tribune Content Agency,, "Horoscope for June 18, 2019: Happy birthday to actress Kim Dickens; Libra, help others by staying calm," 18 June 2019 In a separate medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. CBS News, "The Dish: Chef Priya Krishna reveals her signature recipes," 15 June 2019 Many investment firms use software to sift through data and perform rudimentary analysis by following fairly simple rules. Conrad De Aenlle, New York Times, "A.I. Has Arrived in Investing. Humans Are Still Dominating.," 12 Jan. 2018 Associate Photo Editor Kristen McNicholas looks at daily uploads from Your Shot, starting each day by sifting through thousands of photographs. Kristen Mcnicholas, National Geographic, "Your best photos of the week, June 21, 2019," 21 June 2019 And so the archaeologists mark off sections, dig down through layers of dirt and sift the soil for relics, in a methodical process of piecing together the story of those who came before. Donna Vickroy, Daily Southtown, "Archaeologists, naturalists collaborate to safeguard the future and protect the past in Cook County Forest Preserves," 17 June 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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Dictionary Entries near sift



sifrei torah





Statistics for sift

Last Updated

12 Jul 2019

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 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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to complain fretfully

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