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1 a [+ object] : to pass (something, such as a gas or liquid) through a filter to remove something unwanted

They've begun filtering their water to remove impurities.

1 b [+ object] : to remove (something unwanted) by using a filter

a device that filters impurities from water

sunglasses that filter ultraviolet light

— often + out

sunglasses that filter out ultraviolet light

— often used figuratively

The purpose of the first interview is to filter out people who are not good candidates for the job.

2 a always followed by an adverb or preposition [no object] : to move through or into something in small amounts or in a gradual way

Sunlight filtered through the leaves.

His ideas have filtered down to his children.

2 b always followed by an adverb or preposition [no object] : to come or go slowly in small groups or amounts

The crowd filtered into the arena.

The crowd filtered out (of the arena).

Early election returns have begun to filter in.

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