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sift Line breaks: sift

Definition of sift in English:


[with object]
1Put (a fine or loose substance) through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles: sift the flour into a large bowl
More example sentences
  • Into a small bowl sift together flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt.
  • Many spend the day knee-deep in water sifting for diamonds.
  • At the end of each session, we removed the seed trays and sifted the sand to recover the remaining millet seeds.
1.1Cause to flow or pass as through a sieve: Miranda sifted the warm sand through her fingers
More example sentences
  • Despite his awkward arrival, Howard smiled down at the sand a few centimeters beneath his nose, sifting a hand-full of the white granules through his fingers.
  • Gemini awoke the next morning, not to her father prodding her in the side, but to a warm breeze sifting in through her window and the hot summer sun falling across her face.
  • The question tickled something long hidden, perhaps a meadow where sifting, warm light still shone, a memory of gossamer rays wrapped round his body in all splendorous tranquility.
1.2 [no object, with adverbial of direction] (Of snow, ash, etc.) descend lightly or sparsely as if sprinkled from a sieve: ash began to sift down round them
More example sentences
  • Diamonds sparkle in the radiance of my headlamp as snow sifts from an ebony sky.
  • Snow was sifting down at Tiffindell ski resort near Rhodes yesterday morning, adding to over 25 cm which had fallen since Friday.
  • Watch any good fell runner descending from a summit and it's like sand sifting through an egg timer.
2Examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important: until we sift the evidence ourselves, we can’t comment objectively [no object]: the fourth stage involves sifting through the data and evaluating it
More example sentences
  • Rummaging through a small compartment next to her, she began to sift through old cards and small papers that she might need later on.
  • Lord Hutton was asked to do a specific job: to take evidence, sift it, and reach conclusions.
  • For this reason, post-publication review is very important to sifting good theory from bad.
search through, look through, rummage through, root about/around in, ferret (about/around) in, poke around in, go through, turn over, explore, examine, inspect, scrutinize, pore over, investigate, conduct investigations into, enquire into, conduct an enquiry into, delve into, go into, analyse, screen, sieve, probe, dissect, review, assess
British informal rootle around in
Australian/New Zealand informal fossick through
rare roust around in
2.1 (sift something out) Separate something, especially something to be discarded, from something else: he asked for streamlined procedures to sift out frivolous applications
More example sentences
  • One of the positive aspects of the dotcom slump was that many pseudo-web designers were sifted out.
  • Faced with ideas that negated their newly claimed identities, they neither argued nor capitulated, but simply left - thereby definitively sifting such ideas out of their religious beliefs.
  • FitzGerald had done what he does best - sifted gems out of public statistics.
separate out, filter out, sort out, isolate, divide, part, segregate, put to one side, weed out, get rid of, remove


[usually in singular] Back to top  
1An act of sifting something, especially so as to isolate that which is most important: a careful archaeological sift must be made through the debris
More example sentences
  • I decided to have a sift around the net and see what I could find.
  • These figures suggest that the sift did not discriminate against people on the basis of which university they had attended.
  • And the way these used to work was that they would have each applicant come onto the stage and play a short piece of music and they'd do a very quick sift.
1.1An amount of sifted material: the floor was dusted with a fine sift of flour
More example sentences
  • Bundt cakes are so pretty, they don't need more than a sift of powdered sugar or a drizzle of simple syrup.
  • Add a few drops of water or a sift of flour as needed to get the desired texture.


Old English siftan, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch ziften, also to sieve.



Example sentences
  • Tread down the remaining soil then replace the turf and firm it down, filling any cracks with sifted soil.
  • Whisk in the sifted flour mixture a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth.
  • A teaspoonful of the cut and sifted herb equals about one gram.


Pronunciation: /ˈsɪftə/
Example sentences
  • The powder is filtered through a coarse sifter and put away in canvas bags.
  • Sugar sifters were used to sprinkle granulated or powdered sugar liberally not only on fresh fruit but also on sweet pastries, and the cream ladle was used to add fresh or clotted cream.
  • We had flour on a tarp in the yard with sifters and measuring cups, bubble juice, face paints, and my son's favorite messy item: shaving cream.


Pronunciation: /ˈsɪftɪŋ/
Example sentences
  • This crafted precision, the sifting and weighing of words in a sentence, the seamless poise of successive paragraphs, as life goes whispering forward, is one of the cardinal joys of Trevor's work.
  • Good journalism requires a careful sifting of fact, the discipline of verification, and the building of a viable public narrative.
  • This does not mean they simply produced direct untruths, but there is a sifting and an interpretation of material.

Words that rhyme with sift

adrift, drift, gift, grift, lift, rift, shift, shrift, squiffed, swift, thrift, uplift

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