Definition: scoop-and-sift (or simply ‘sift’ for short) is the act of taking a manageable superset known, or at least presumed, to contain the set of interest, and then manually eliminating what is extraneous. This requires much less effort than trying to extract the exact thing in-situ.


  1. the Biblical ‘separating the wheat from the chaff’
  2. the proverbial searching for a needle in a haystack
  3. panning for gold
  4. mining iron ore
  5. dealing with the results of a database search (such as googling the web for a given topic)
  6. the method of extraneous roots in algebra (typically via squaring both sides of the equation)
  7. dealing with the application of the Rational Root Theorem
  8. an owner’s manual that addresses several models of the device simultaneously
  9. un-customized messages from a vendor that you have been doing business with, such as:

“It is time for your quarterly barrier protection service or monthly mosquito service.”

“If you have a balance outstanding on your account it is indicated below.”

(- it being left to you, the customer, to disregard whatever does not apply)

  1. creating a rough draft of an essay, and then polishing it until it’s ready to publish
  2. sculpturing: to create a sculpture of an elephant, just chip away everything that

is not an elephant

  1. candidates present themselves, and the voters eliminate the ones they don’t want