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

Examples from the Web for sieving

Historical Examples of sieving

British Dictionary definitions for sieving


  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 sieving



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