See more synonyms for sieve on
  1. 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.
  2. a person who cannot keep a secret.
verb (used with or without object), sieved, siev·ing.
  1. 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. 2018

Related Words for sieve

colander, filter, basket, screen, mesh, sifter

Examples from the Web for sieve

Contemporary Examples of sieve

Historical Examples of sieve

British Dictionary definitions for sieve


  1. 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
  2. rare a person who gossips and spreads secrets
  3. memory like a sieve or head like a sieve a very poor memory
  1. to pass or cause to pass through a sieve
  2. (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