Definition of siphon in English:


(also syphon)


  • 1A tube used to convey liquid upwards from a reservoir and then down to a lower level of its own accord. Once the liquid has been forced into the tube, typically by suction or immersion, flow continues unaided.

    • ‘A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage tank by mistake.’
    • ‘One never got large enough to really test the theory; in the second one, having a siphon worked quite well.’
    • ‘If you use a siphon sprayer with your air compressor, you will need one with an external mix nozzle to spray latex.’
    • ‘There won't be much to do but check everything every couple of hours until about three a.m., when all the syphons will need changing.’
    • ‘Hastings police say it's amazing the unnamed man didn't blow himself up when he held the lighter to the siphon.’
    • ‘A sick man in his bunk directed the rigging up of a siphon pump.’
    • ‘The lower reach of the St. Francis River, south of Marked Tree, is isolated by surrounding levees, the Huxtable Pumping Plant to the south, and a pair of one-way siphons to the north.’
    • ‘After several false starts, we managed to get the siphon working.’
    • ‘They stopped every five miles to suck gas into the siphon and feed the engine.’
    • ‘Flood prevention work, including the installation of a large siphon pipe through the centre of the village, was carried out after serious flooding in 1995.’
    • ‘Not one to waste time, I unscrewed the gas cap and slipped the siphon tube into the tank.’
    • ‘Engineers are now telling the town that it could take up to three years for the permafrost under the arena to freeze back so that the thermal siphons can maintain it at that temperature.’
    • ‘He said now the villagers would not allow this breach as well as another near the other village to be repaired unless syphons were constructed at the spots.’
    • ‘Their balancing syphon is a reproduction of ones used by the monarchy of nineteenth-century Vienna.’
    • ‘In the extinguisher, a plastic siphon tube leads from the bottom of the fire-suppressant reservoir to the top of the extinguisher.’
    • ‘It is much more likely that the relationship between the siphon and the absinthe was contrived by the artists.’
    • ‘With the siphon in place and a pump to hand, the event was unexpected and, as yet, remains unexplained.’
    • ‘Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to a whipped-cream siphon.’
    • ‘The pumping station, the main sewers in the inner city and a siphon under the Avon River were completed, but the work took two years.’
    • ‘Keep a syphon tube in the boot incase you need to make a quick refill.’
    tube, conduit, hose, main, duct, line, channel, canal, conveyor, pipeline, drain, tubing, piping, siphon, cylinder
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    1. 1.1Zoology A tubular organ in an aquatic animal, especially a mollusc, through which water is drawn in or expelled.
      • ‘He does have one ‘endearing’ habit though - that of sticking his siphon out of the tank and jetting water over everything in the night.’
      • ‘To detect prey, a cone snail uses its siphon, an organ that takes up water and directs it over the gills.’
      • ‘These animals are also more capable of avoiding coral overgrowth by greatly elongating their siphons.’
      • ‘The way the siphon directs the water stream controls the animal's forward, backward, and sideways movements.’
      • ‘Steamers are soft-shelled clams that also have long siphons that protrude from their thin brittle shells.’


  • 1 Draw off or convey (liquid) by means of a siphon.

    ‘a piece of tubing was used to siphon petrol’
    ‘a gravel cleaner that removes detritus without siphoning off water’
    • ‘A bungling criminal was crushed by a car when he severed a suspension cable instead of a fuel pipe while trying to siphon petrol.’
    • ‘I'm going to have to siphon petrol out of my mother's car soon.’
    • ‘You were syphoning petrol out of a car that had three distraught children in it, but figured it was best to keep quiet.’
    • ‘With the continuous dry weather during August and September and the amount of water being siphoned off to supply other areas, the river bed is completely dry and it would certainly not win an environmental award.’
    • ‘The officer was attacked as he tried to arrest the man for siphoning petrol from a van.’
    • ‘The legislation was wildly unpopular, and led to people siphoning the petrol out of other people's tanks.’
    • ‘He ran off and they siphoned the petrol from his van.’
    • ‘Since he had no money, he was getting gas by siphoning off gas from other cars.’
    • ‘As he looked out of the window, he saw a young man siphoning petrol from his car.’
    • ‘You can recycle bath and washing water by using the garden hose to syphon the waste water onto the garden.’
    • ‘A passing motorist helps him out, and he siphons some petrol back into the scooter.’
    • ‘The company can do very little to stop Ukraine's gas company from siphoning off extra gas.’
    • ‘Lippold made the decision to use a diesel-powered combustible pump to siphon the water out of the space.’
    • ‘He said that in the end, though he had to siphon water out of the shop cellar and will have to re-paint the door, his property was otherwise left undamaged by the floods.’
    • ‘I'll drill a hole in the top of the cup and you can siphon the water out with a straw.’
    • ‘I siphon the water into 5-gallon pails for watering the plants.’
    • ‘If straining methods do not adequately filter out the fine particles and sediment from the liqueur, try siphoning off the clear liquid.’
    • ‘Engineers built canals to siphon water from the Euphrates River and transport it to their fields, giving rise to the world's first irrigation-based society.’
    • ‘The simplest solutions like siphoning the washing water onto the garden are the most effective in the long run.’
    • ‘Both black and grey water is siphoned into a storage tank, where it is mixed, and then put into the bio-reactor.’
    1. 1.1Draw off or transfer over a period of time, especially illegally or unfairly.
      ‘he's been siphoning money off the firm’
      • ‘The court case illustrated how huge sums of money could be siphoned off by agents in transfer deals.’
      • ‘The general secretary of the Headteachers Association of Scotland, suggested councils were siphoning off education money and said it was time for the iron grip of councils on Scottish education to be weakened.’
      • ‘He then began to illegally siphon his money from US bank accounts to offshore tax havens through a series of ingenious shell companies.’
      • ‘No payment is ever made and any money inadvertently paid by an unsuspecting victim is siphoned off into the fraudsters hands.’
      • ‘One of the most common scams at the moment is to send individuals with online bank accounts an official-seeming request for confidential details, which in fact enable crooks to siphon money off the account.’
      • ‘Governments buy support by spending money, not by siphoning it away in taxes.’
      • ‘Much of the limited aid intended to alleviate their plight has been siphoned off by government bureaucrats and sold on the black market.’
      • ‘The princes are siphoning off the country's riches.’
      • ‘There is no indication of a further siphoning off of support in the Assembly.’
      • ‘The upkeep of the Olympic facilities after 2000 will continue to be a burden on the State budget and so represent a further siphoning off from social welfare and other necessary expenditure.’
      • ‘Ankit also spoke of a cyber criminal who had siphoned off money from an American bank, and another who had managed to break into the satellite control system of a space organization.’
      • ‘But even their auditor-general admits there have been problems, with senior officials at the General Administration of Sports siphoning off £7.5m from funds earmarked for the Olympics.’
      • ‘False claims of up to £1,000 a year appear to have been siphoned into fraudsters' bank accounts.’
      • ‘In a major strategy to boost sport and combat Britain's ‘couch potato’ culture, the Government signalled the need to stop local councils siphoning off money meant for sport into other services.’
      • ‘It is sad that there appear to be people who are in public service just to siphon money from the national treasury using all sorts of illicit methods.’
      • ‘An enterprising young man in the Ukraine is siphoning credit card numbers off the Web for his employer, a criminal syndicate, which compiles and sells them in bulk to the highest bidder.’
      • ‘Industry observers estimate that fraud continues to siphon millions of dollars from the system each year.’
      • ‘He would use victims' financial information to open new accounts under their names, and then siphon money from their legitimate accounts into the new, fraudulent ones.’
      • ‘The Government wants to siphon funds off and transfer them elsewhere.’
      • ‘Criminal gangs may have siphoned millions from lottery grants’
      draw off, extract, withdraw, remove, pump off, siphon off, milk, bleed, tap, void, filter, pour out, pour off, tip, discharge, transfer
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Late Middle English: from French, or via Latin from Greek siphōn pipe. The verb dates from the mid 19th century.