v. sift·ed, sift·ing, sifts
1. To put (flour, for example) through a sieve in order to separate the fine from the coarse particles.
2. To distinguish as if separating with a sieve: sifted the candidates for the job.
3. To apply by scattering through a sieve: sift sugar on a dessert.
4. To examine and sort carefully: sift the evidence.
1. To make use of a sieve.
2. To pass through a sieve: a meal that sifts easily.
3. To make a careful examination: sifted through back issues of the magazine.
[Middle English siften, from Old English siftan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.