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, siev·ing.

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 formssieve·like, adjectiveun·sieved, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sieve

Contemporary Examples of sieve

Historical Examples of sieve

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 or head like a sieve a very poor memory


to pass or cause to pass through a sieve
(tr often foll by out) to separate or remove (lumps, materials, etc) by use of a sieve
Derived Formssievelike, adjective

Word Origin for sieve

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

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