• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. to separate and retain the coarse parts of (flour, ashes, etc.) with a sieve.
  2. to scatter or sprinkle through or by means of a sieve: to sift sugar onto cake.
  3. to separate by or as if by a sieve.
  4. to examine closely: The detectives are still sifting the evidence.
  5. to question closely.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to sift something.
  2. to pass or fall through or as if through a sieve.
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Origin of sift

before 900; Middle English siften, Old English siftan; cognate with Dutch, Middle Low German siften; akin to sieve
Related formsout·sift, verb (used with object)pre·sift, verb (used with object)re·sift, verb (used with object)un·sift·ed, adjective

Synonyms for sift

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unsifted

Historical Examples of unsifted

  • Into four of them, while cold, ordinary unheated and unsifted air was pumped.

    Fragments of science, V. 1-2

    John Tyndall

  • She had so many dreams to dream over, such an unsifted store.

    The Rainbow

    D. H. (David Herbert) Lawrence

  • His jeans were torn and his cotton shirt was in rags, but his grit was unsifted.

    Partners of Chance

    Henry Herbert Knibbs

  • If the milk dressing is used, it should simply be poured over the (unsifted) Graham, and not made into a batter.

  • The meal is often unsifted and sour, and the meat such as in the North is consigned to the soap-maker.


    Augustus C. Hamlin

British Dictionary definitions for unsifted


  1. (tr) to sieve (sand, flour, etc) in order to remove the coarser particles
  2. to scatter (something) over a surface through a sieve
  3. (tr) to separate with or as if with a sieve; distinguish between
  4. (tr) to examine minutelyto sift evidence
  5. (intr) to move as if through a sieve
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Derived Formssifter, noun

Word Origin for sift

Old English siftan; related to Middle Low German siften to sift, Dutch ziften; see sieve
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 unsifted



Old English siftan "pass (something) through a sieve," from Proto-Germanic *sib- (cf. Dutch ziften, Middle Low German sichten, German sichten "to sift;" see sieve (n.)). Intransitive sense "to pass loosely or fall scatteredly" is from 1590s. Metaphoric sense of "look carefully through" first recorded 1530s. Related: Sifted; sifting.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper