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Old English sife "sieve," from Proto-Germanic *sib (cf. Middle Dutch seve, Dutch zeef, Old High German sib, German Sieb), from PIE *seib- "to pour out, sieve, drip, trickle" (see soap (n.)). Related to sift. The Sieve of Eratosthenes (1803) is a contrivance for finding prime numbers. Sieve and shears formerly were used in divinations.
late 15c., from sieve (n.). Related: Sieved; sieving.
A very effective, quasi-magical agent, remedy, etc: Stokovich looked on Kennedy as his ''silver bullet,'' his absolute best man/ No single silver bullet is going to do the job
[1808+; reflecting an ancient belief that silver weapons can conquer any foe, found, for example, in the Delphic Oracle's advice to Philip of Macedon, ''With silver weapons you may conquer the world'']