9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[sift] /sɪft/
verb (used with object)
to separate and retain the coarse parts of (flour, ashes, etc.) with a sieve.
to scatter or sprinkle through or by means of a sieve:
to sift sugar onto cake.
to separate by or as if by a sieve.
to examine closely:
The detectives are still sifting the evidence.
to question closely.
verb (used without object)
to sift something.
to pass or fall through or as if through a sieve.
Origin of sift
before 900; Middle English siften, Old English siftan; cognate with Dutch, Middle Low German siften; akin to sieve
Related forms
outsift, verb (used with object)
presift, verb (used with object)
resift, verb (used with object)
unsifted, adjective
4. sort, scrutinize, inspect, search, probe. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for sift
  • It's only been two weeks and they have many applications to sift through.
  • Only a single-digit percentage of people really understand how to sift through the way science is reported now.
  • sift the salt and flour together, pour over the eggs and milk into it, and beat quickly with a spoon till it is foamy.
  • And second, a giant computer to sift through that data using a detailed query.
  • Of course, conventional lenders sift through information about borrowers to decide whether someone is a good risk.
  • sift flour and sugar separately onto sheets of waxed paper.
  • In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  • sift the remaining superfine sugar over the marshmallows.
  • sift the confectioners' sugar over them and set them aside to cool before removing them from the cookie sheet.
  • Software can then sift through the data, comparing the profiles to look for matches.
British Dictionary definitions for sift


(transitive) to sieve (sand, flour, etc) in order to remove the coarser particles
to scatter (something) over a surface through a sieve
(transitive) to separate with or as if with a sieve; distinguish between
(transitive) to examine minutely: to sift evidence
(intransitive) to move as if through a sieve
Derived Forms
sifter, noun
Word Origin
Old English siftan; related to Middle Low German siften to sift, Dutch ziften; see sieve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sift

Old English siftan "pass (something) through a sieve," from Proto-Germanic *sib- (cf. Dutch ziften, Middle Low German sichten, German sichten "to sift;" see sieve (n.)). Intransitive sense "to pass loosely or fall scatteredly" is from 1590s. Metaphoric sense of "look carefully through" first recorded 1530s. Related: Sifted; sifting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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sift in Technology

SHARE Internal Fortran Translator. Translation utility designed for converting Fortran II to Fortran IV. The word "sift" was often used as a verb to describe converting code from one language to another. Sammet 1969, p.153.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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