"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," Old English sife, from Proto-Germanic *sib (source also of Middle Dutch seve, Dutch zeef, Old High German sib, German Sieb), from PIE *seib- "to pour out, sieve, drip, trickle" (see soap (n.)). Related to sift. The Sieve of Eratosthenes (1803) is a contrivance for finding prime numbers. Sieve and shears formerly were used in divination.
"to throw out or eliminate," specifically "to eliminate from an body by a process of secretion and discharge," 1610s, from Latin excretus, past participle of excernere "to sift out, discharge," from ex "out" (see ex-) + cernere "sift, separate" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). Related: Excreted; excreting.
c. 1600, "action of excreting;" 1620s, "that which is excreted," from French excrétion (16c.), from Latin excretionem (nominative excretio), noun of action from past-participle stem of excernere "to sift out, separate" (see excrement).
"dross, scum, superfluous matter, separated from that which is useful," especially a waste product of an animal or vegetable body, 1590s, from French récrément (mid-16c.) or directly from Latin recrementum, as if from a verb *recernere, from re- (see re-) + cernere "to sift, separate" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve," thus "discriminate, distinguish"). Related: Recremental (1570s); recrementitious.
"to shield from punishment, protect from inconvenience or danger; to conceal," late 15c., from screen (n.). Meaning "sift by passing through a screen" is by 1660s; the meaning "examine systematically for suitability" is from 1943, a word from World War II. The sense of "release a movie" is from 1915. The U.S. sporting sense is by 1922. Related: Screened; screening.
early 15c., "to inspect and remove the dirt and dross from (spices)," from Anglo-French garbeler "to sift" (late 14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin, Catalan, and Italian garbellare, from Arabic gharbal "to sift," related to kirbal "sieve," which perhaps is from Late Latin cribellum, diminutive of Latin cribrum "sieve" (from PIE root *krei- "to sieve"). Apparently the word was widespread among Mediterranean traders (compare Italian garbellare, Spanish garbillare "to sift grain").
In later-medieval Europe, pepper and ginger and some other spices were always imports from the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean, and the same goes for many botanical drugs, and a few expensive colorants. The spices, drugs and colorants had variable amounts of natural chaff residuals and occasionally had unnatural added chaff. ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]
From late 15c. in a general sense of "sort out the finer parts" of anything, "removal of what is objectionable," then "distort for some devious purpose or to give false impression;" especially "mix up, confuse or distort language" (1680s). Related: Garbled; garbling. In Middle English garbeler (Anglo-French garbelour) meant "official who garbles spices and sometimes also other dry goods" (early 15c.); it is attested from 1690s as "one who mixes up or mutilates words or language."