\ 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 In a large bowl, sift 2 cups flour into the remaining 1 cup milk gradually. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "For this family, making paczki at home is tradition, flavored by a grandmother's knowhow," 18 Feb. 2020 Step 2 Using a sifter or fine-mesh strainer, sift the cake flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder into a large bowl; add the salt and whisk briefly to combine. Washington Post, "Yellow Sheet Cake With Pink American Buttercream," 7 Feb. 2020 In the following two years, Russian engineers sifted through a multitude of rocket designs that could do the job. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, "Everything You Need To Know About Russia’s (Possibly Fictional) Super Heavy Rocket," 3 Feb. 2020 Statewide, Democrats also will begin sifting a dozen choices for a November nominee to put up against three-term Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Robert T. Garrett, Dallas News, "Texans, you have a week left to register for the March 3 primary. Here’s what you need to know.," 27 Jan. 2020 Earlier Saturday, firefighters in Bossier Parish, La., sifted through a trailer demolished by strong winds and found the bodies of an elderly couple. Fox News, "Storms in South blamed for 7 deaths, including 3 in Alabama from tornado," 12 Jan. 2020 Bastolich sifted through dozens of them before finding the perfect one, decorated with unicorns. Mary Divine, Twin Cities, "When a child is placed in emergency foster care, this group offers bottles, clothes and comfort. You can help.," 15 Dec. 2019 However, composing messages on a device is an arduous task of sifting through alphabet letters to create words. Ben Romans, Field & Stream, "Great Survival Gift Ideas for 2019," 22 Nov. 2019 While travelers have been maneuvering that mess, reporter Jon Murray has been sifting through hundreds of pages of claims to figure out what went wrong in the split with the first set of contractors. The Denver Post, "Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of Nov. 11 – 17," 17 Nov. 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

22 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Sift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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

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