to screen / to sieve

Mr Chu

Senior Member
Spanish - Argentina
What would the exact diference between these two verbs be in what is related to detection activities (such as HIV screening, etc.)? Or has "to screen" the sense of putting something "on screen" rather than "to sieve" samples?

Thanks a lot
 
  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    The word I would use for "putting through a sieve" is sift. It wouldn't surprise me if the words had a common etymology.

    You can screen material too, in the sense other than showing movies on a screen. I think the term is used in archeology, where delicately-removed material is put through a series of screens, each finer than the last. But sift is also an appropriate verb for this activity.

    Edit: I misread your question! Sift is a physical verb, but screen can be used figuratively-- as in screening blood samples for HIV. "Sieve" as a verb doesn't sound very idiomatic to me.
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    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    To screen patients for a disease is to refer to the patients as a group and the 'mesh' is no longer a physical screen but it is the testing process itself that screens the healthy patients from the infected ones.

    To screen in this sense is to separate into groups by testing procedures.

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    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    To me, to screen is to search through X looking for Y - Y being what you want. Archaeologists screen the soil at their diggings looking for artefacts.
    To sieve is to search through X looking for Y - Y being what you don't want. Bakers sieve their flour to remove impurities and lumps.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    maxiogee said:
    To me, to screen is to search through X looking for Y - Y being what you want. Archaeologists screen the soil at their diggings looking for artefacts.
    To sieve is to search through X looking for Y - Y being what you don't want. Bakers sieve their flour to remove impurities and lumps.
    But sift means to separate out-- it has the same meaning as sieve, and the interchangeability of the /f/ and /v/ phonemes leads me to suspect these are variations on the same verbal theme.

    I still think sift also sounds more idiomatic as a verb than sieve. To me a sieve is a multi-use object, which in itself obviates the word's use as a specific verb. If you use it to remove impediments from liquids, you are straining-- and if you do the same with dry matter like flour or meal, you are sifting with it.

    I know some dictionaries list sieve as a verb-- but to me it makes as much sense as using potting or panning to describe the boiling and frying you do with those utensils.
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    Mr Chu

    Senior Member
    Spanish - Argentina
    Thank you very much you guys for the answers. I learned english in a spanish speaking country and there are certain ¿shades? of the language I can´t get

    Thank you all
     
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