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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. The word "sift" derives from this term. A strainer is a type of sieve typically associated with separating liquids from solids.

Sieve may mean:




  • a colander, a (typically) bowl-shaped sieve used as a strainer in cooking
  • a chinoise, or conical sieve used as a strainer, also sometimes used like a food mill.
  • a tamis, also known as a drum sieve
  • a zaru, or bamboo sieve, used in Japanese cooking
  • a flour sifter, used in baking
  • a cocktail strainer, a bar accessory


  • in transport phenomena, see sieving coefficient
  • in the mining industry, a mesh used to separate fine particles from coarse ones

(see also: Filter)


  • in sieve theory, a technique for counting or filtering sets of numbers
    • sieve of Eratosthenes
    • general number field sieve
    • large sieve
  • a sieve (category theory), a way of writing down how objects in a category glue to give other one

Computer science

  • Sieve (mail filtering language), a proposed standard for specifying mail filters
  • Sieve C++ Parallel Programming System, an auto-parallelizing compiler for C++

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
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sieve". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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