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[siv] /sɪv/
an instrument with a meshed or perforated bottom, used for separating coarse from fine parts of loose matter, for straining liquids, etc., especially one with a circular frame and fine meshes or perforations.
a person who cannot keep a secret.
verb (used with or without object), sieved, sieving.
to put or force through a sieve; sift.
Origin of sieve
before 900; Middle English sive, Old English sife; cognate with Dutch zeef, German Sieb; akin to sift
Related forms
sievelike, adjective
unsieved, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for sieve


a device for separating lumps from powdered material, straining liquids, grading particles, etc, consisting of a container with a mesh or perforated bottom through which the material is shaken or poured
(rare) a person who gossips and spreads secrets
memory like a sieve, head like a sieve, a very poor memory
to pass or cause to pass through a sieve
(transitive) often foll by out. to separate or remove (lumps, materials, etc) by use of a sieve
Derived Forms
sievelike, adjective
Word Origin
Old English sife; related to Old Norse sef reed with hollow stalk, Old High German sib sieve, Dutch zeef
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 sieve

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for sieve



  1. A leaky boat or ship: That frog-eating sieve
  2. simoleon or samoleon (sih MOH lee en)
  3. A dollar One who cannot keep a secret

Related Terms

have a mind like a sieve

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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