from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A utensil of wire mesh or closely perforated metal or plastic, used for straining, sifting, ricing, or puréeing.
  • intransitive verb To pass through a sieve.
  • intransitive verb To use a sieve; sift.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cause the finer parts of to pass through or as if through a sieve; sift.
  • noun An instrument for separating the finer from the coarser parts of disintegrated matter, by shaking it so as to force the former through meshes too small for the latter to pass. Sieves are made in many forms for a great variety of uses. See hair-siere, scarce, screen, bolting-cloth, etc.
  • noun Something for other use shaped like or in some way resembling the common circular sieve.
  • noun A wide sheepskin-covered hoop used in some localities for holding wool.
  • noun In calico-printing, a cloth extending over a vat which contains the color.
  • noun Figuratively, a thing which lacks closeness of texture, or a person who lacks closeness of disposition; especially, a very frank or free-spoken person; one who lets out all that he knows.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A utensil for separating the finer and coarser parts of a pulverized or granulated substance from each other. It consist of a vessel, usually shallow, with the bottom perforated, or made of hair, wire, or the like, woven in meshes.
  • noun A kind of coarse basket.
  • noun (Bot.) cribriform cells. See under Cribriform.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A device to separate larger objects from smaller objects, or to separate solid objects from a liquid.
  • noun A process, physical or abstract, that arrives at a final result by filtering out unwanted pieces of input from a larger starting set of input.
  • verb To strain, sift or sort using a sieve.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb examine in order to test suitability
  • noun a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material or grading particles
  • verb check and sort carefully
  • verb separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements
  • verb distinguish and separate out


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English sive, from Old English sife.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English sife, Proto-Germanic *sibi. Akin to German Sieb, Dutch zeef, Slavic *sito (Russian сито, сев, сеять).


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  • In mathematics a sieve is used to find prime numbers. Click here for an interesting demonstration.

    February 14, 2007