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[sahy-fuh n] /ˈsaɪ fən/
noun, verb (used with or without object)


or syphon

[sahy-fuh n] /ˈsaɪ fən/
a tube or conduit bent into legs of unequal length, for use in drawing a liquid from one container into another on a lower level by placing the shorter leg into the container above and the longer leg into the one below, the liquid being forced up the shorter leg and into the longer one by the pressure of the atmosphere.
a projecting tubular part of some animals, especially certain mollusks, through which liquid enters or leaves the body.
verb (used with or without object)
to convey, draw, or pass through or as if through a siphon (sometimes followed by off):
to siphon water; to siphon off profits into a secret bank account.
Origin of siphon
1650-60; < Latin sīphōn- (stem of sīphō) < Greek síphōn, sī́phōn pipe, tube
Related forms
siphonal, siphonic
[sahy-fon-ik] /saɪˈfɒn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
siphonless, adjective
siphonlike, adjective
pseudosiphonal, adjective
pseudosiphonic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for syphon
Historical Examples
  • At the breaking of the syphon, enough water is left in the trap to preserve the seal.

    Rural Hygiene Henry N. Ogden
  • These two closets, syphon and the syphon-jet, are preferable to those of any other style.

    Rural Hygiene Henry N. Ogden
  • "Certainly, M. Gaston," replied the physician—he was officiating at the syphon.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • Yvonne rose as a maid entered with a tray bearing decanter and syphon.

  • I was only in the room just time enough to place the syphon on the table and withdraw.

    The Woman in Black Edmund Clerihew Bentley
  • This phenomenon is explained on the principle of the syphon.

  • A syphon may be used if a source of supply is near the position of the tank.

  • Possibly it may be the syphon form of the passage through which the water flows.

    Letters from Palestine J. D. Paxton
  • The principle, therefore, of the midfeather is similar to the syphon trap.

  • There was a splash and gurgle as he pressed the trigger of the syphon.

    The Drunkard

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
British Dictionary definitions for syphon


a variant spelling of siphon


a tube placed with one end at a certain level in a vessel of liquid and the other end outside the vessel below this level, so that liquid pressure forces the liquid through the tube and out of the vessel by gravity
(zoology) any of various tubular organs in different aquatic animals, such as molluscs and elasmobranch fishes, through which a fluid, esp water, passes
(often foll by off) to pass or draw off through or as if through a siphon
Derived Forms
siphonage, noun
siphonal, siphonic (saɪˈfɒnɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin sīphō, from Greek siphōn siphon
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 syphon



late 14c., from Latin sipho (genitive siphonis) "a siphon," from Greek siphon "pipe, tube for drawing wine from a cask," of unknown origin. Related: Siphonal.



1859, from siphon (n.). Figurative sense of "to draw off, divert" is recorded from 1940. Related: Siphoned; siphoning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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syphon in Medicine

siphon si·phon (sī'fən)
A tube bent into an inverted U shape of unequal lengths, used to remove fluid by means of atmospheric pressure from a cavity or reservoir at one end of the tube over a barrier and out the other end. v. si·phoned, si·phon·ing, si·phons

  1. To draw off or convey through a siphon.

  2. To pass through a siphon.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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syphon in Science
  1. A pipe or tube in the form of an upside-down U, filled with liquid and arranged so that the pressure of the atmosphere forces liquid to flow upward from a container through the tube, over a barrier, and into a lower container.

  2. A tubular animal part, as of a clam, through which water is taken in or expelled.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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