sift / sift/ • v. [tr.] put (a fine, loose, or powdery substance) through a sieve so as to remove lumps or large particles: sift the flour into a large bowl. ∎ fig. examine (something) thoroughly so as to isolate that which is most important or useful: until we sift the evidence ourselves, we can't comment objectively | [intr.] the fourth stage involves sifting through the data and evaluating it. ∎ (sift something out) separate something, esp. something to be discarded, from something else: he asked for streamlined procedures to sift out frivolous applications. ∎ cause to flow or pass as through a sieve: Melanie sifted the warm sand through her fingers. ∎ [intr.] (of snow, ash, light, or something similar) descend or float down lightly or sparsely as if sprinkled from a sieve: ash began to sift down around them.• n. [usu. in sing.] an act of sifting something, esp. so as to isolate that which is most important or useful: a careful archaeological sift must be made through the debris. ∎ an amount of sifted material: the floor was dusted with a fine sift of flour.DERIVATIVES: sift·er n.