\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web But that gave Westbrook-Ikhine more time to sift through the playbook before departing for Nashville. Jon Blau, The Indianapolis Star, "IU alum Nick Westbrook-Ikhine knows how to stick in NFL as undrafted free agent," 4 May 2021 Here’s how to sift through the acronyms, storage options, and extra features to find the best one for you. Adrienne So, Wired, "Get Moving With Our Favorite Fitness Apps and Services," 28 Mar. 2021 Dear Pandemic's contributors sift through roughly 250 questions per week, identifying themes, and answering the queries that are the most timely. Claire Zillman, Fortune, "Dear Pandemic: A braintrust of female scientists is answering your every COVID question," 12 Mar. 2021 Reeves took the opportunity to do extra Bible study, sift through a lifetime of memorabilia, and work on a second memoir. Brian Hiatt, Rolling Stone, "The Damage Done: Looking Back At A Year Without Concerts," 11 Mar. 2021 In a large bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ginger snaps recipe," 1 Dec. 2020 Dig in the dirt, sift soil between your fingers, make a mud pie. Anchorage Daily News, "2021 Summer Camps," 21 Apr. 2021 With so many cards to sift through, picking out any particular favorites is going to be a tough job. Joe Parlock, Forbes, "Why Strixhaven’s Octavia, Living Thesis Is My New Favorite ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Card," 6 Apr. 2021 In order to translate your expanding stockpile of data into value, your organization will need to sift through this information for actionable insights. Brent Dykes, Forbes, "Why Being Passionately Curious Is The Difference Between Good And Great Analysis," 25 Feb. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about sift

Time Traveler for sift

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for sift

Last Updated

7 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Sift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!