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[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 sifted
  • Roll edge of cookie in crushed and sifted candy canes.
  • Colorful sprinkles aren't lowbrow beside sifted cocoa.
  • We must engage them in learning communities where facts, ideas, and values are sifted and winnowed.
  • They had to be sifted out by hand, by the thousands.
  • Her stories and aphorisms are a sieve through which the culture is sifted.
  • The bottom ten are sifted out from about twenty who have some good features and some potential drawbacks.
  • Experts estimate that when they have finally sifted through the rubble, there may be hundreds of thousands of tissue samples.
  • You've sifted them out by how religious they are, and how educated they are.
  • In other words, he asked for the data after it had been processed and sifted, and churned into a useable format.
  • All things were lightly powdered with gold, by a lustre that seemed to have been sifted through gauze.
British Dictionary definitions for sifted


(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 sifted



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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