AskDefine | Define sieve

Dictionary Definition

sieve n : a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material or grading particles [syn: screen]


1 examine in order to test suitability; "screen these samples"; "screen the job applicants" [syn: screen, screen out, sort]
2 check and sort carefully; "sift the information" [syn: sift]
3 separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements; "sift the flour" [syn: sift, strain]
4 distinguish and separate out; "sift through the job candidates" [syn: sift]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /sɪv/
  • Rhymes: -ɪv


  1. A device to separate larger objects from smaller objects, or to separate solid objects from a liquid.
  2. 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.
    Given a list of consecutive numbers starting at 1, the Sieve of Eratosthenes algorithm will find all of the prime numbers.
Use the sieve to get the water from the pasta.


device to separate larger objects
process, physical or abstract


  1. To strain, sift or sort using a sieve.


to strain, sift or sort using a sieve

Extensive Definition

In general, a sieve separates wanted/desired elements from unwanted material using a tool such as a mesh, net or other filtration or distillation methods, but it is also used for classification of powders by particle size, or for size measurement as an analytical technique. The word "sift" derives from this term. A strainer is a type of sieve typically associated with separating liquids from solids.
Sieve may mean:



(see also: Filter)


Computer science


Other uses

  • a stainless steel strainer, used in plumbing
  • in metaphor and simile, sieve may often be used to refer to things that are leaky, as a sieve used for a bowl.
    • In particular, in hockey, a goaltender who lets a lot of goals through is sometimes compared to a sieve. (In college hockey students chant the word "sieve" at the opposite goalie)
    • In basketball, a player who is a poor defender is sometimes referred to as a "sieve."
  • On rivers, a sieve or strainer is a dangerous obstacle that water can pass through, but people cannot. See Obstacle in whitewater canoing
  • the Sieve, a river in Italy
sieve in Catalan: Garbell
sieve in German: Sieb
sieve in French: Passoire
sieve in Japanese: 篩
sieve in Dutch: Zeef
sieve in Polish: sito
sieve in Portuguese: Crivo
sieve in Spanish: Rejilla
sieve in Spanish: Filtro
sieve in Swedish: Såll

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

analyze, analyzer, arabesque, assort, basketry, basketwork, bolt, bolter, breaker, cancellation, categorize, centrifuge, clack, clarifier, clarify, classify, clear, colander, collate, contradistinguish, cordon, cordon off, cradle, cribble, cribriformity, cribrosity, cross-hatching, crossing-out, cull out, cutter, decrassify, demarcate, demark, depurate, differentiate, discriminate, distill, distinguish, divide, draw the line, edulcorate, elute, essentialize, extract, filigree, filter, filtrate, fret, fretwork, ghettoize, gin, gossiper, gradate, grade, grate, grating, grid, gridiron, grille, grillwork, group, hachure, hatching, honeycomb, insulate, interlacement, intertexture, intertwinement, isolate, keep apart, keep aside, lace, lacery, lacework, lacing, lattice, latticework, lay aside, leach, lixiviate, lixiviator, mark the interface, mesh, meshes, meshwork, net, netting, network, percolate, percolator, pick out, plexure, plexus, porosity, porousness, purifier, purify, put aside, quarantine, quidnunc, raddle, rank, rectify, refine, refiner, refinery, reticle, reticulation, reticule, reticulum, riddle, rocker, rumormonger, scandalmonger, screen, screen out, screening, seclude, segregate, select, separate, separator, set a limit, set apart, set aside, set off, sever, severalize, sieve out, sievelikeness, sift, sift out, sifter, size, sort, sort out, sorter, spiritualize, split hairs, sponge, strain, strainer, stripper, subdivide, sublimate, sublime, subordinate, subtilize, tabby, talebearer, texture, thrash, thresh, tissue, tracery, trellis, trelliswork, try, wattle, weave, weaving, web, webbing, webwork, weft, wicker, wickerwork, winnow, winnowing basket, winnowing fan, winnowing machine
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