sieve

A sieve is a mesh strainer used to separate lumps and clumps from the fine material. Sieves are handy for everything from sifting flour to prospecting for gold — anything where you need to separate the big from the small.

If you’re an archaeologist, you've probably used various sorts of sifters and shakers to sieve through the soil to recover even the tiniest artifacts. If your interests run more to building sandcastles, you’ve probably got a sieve in your beach bag, along with the shovels and pails. If you keep forgetting things, you can describe your "mind as a sieve," since it doesn’t seem to hold much.

Definitions of sieve
  1. noun
    a strainer for separating lumps from powdered material or grading particles
    synonyms: screen
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    types:
    riddle
    a coarse sieve (as for gravel)
    sifter
    a household sieve (as for flour)
    type of:
    strainer
    a filter to retain larger pieces while smaller pieces and liquids pass through
  2. verb
    separate by passing through a sieve or other straining device to separate out coarser elements
    synonyms: sift, strain
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    types:
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    rice
    sieve so that it becomes the consistency of rice
    resift
    sift anew
    riddle, screen
    separate with a riddle, as grain from chaff
    fan, winnow
    separate the chaff from by using air currents
    type of:
    separate
    divide into components or constituents
  3. verb
    distinguish and separate out
    synonyms: sift
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    type of:
    choose, pick out, select, take
    pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives
  4. verb
    examine in order to test suitability
    synonyms: screen, screen out, sort
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    type of:
    choose, pick out, select, take
    pick out, select, or choose from a number of alternatives
  5. verb
    check and sort carefully
    synonyms: sift
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    type of:
    analyse, analyze, canvas, canvass, delve, examine, parse, study
    consider in detail and subject to an analysis in order to discover essential features or meaning
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