Can "filter for" be used in the following sense:

"ABC is very important as it filters for high quality and reliable results."

Filter for has been used as filter out:

"8. to act as a filter for; to slow or partially obstruct the passage of." (The Free Dictionary)

I am aware that filter on its own is ambiguous; see Sieve vs filter? Are they opposites?

This question is specifically about "filter for" and its second usage (where it's followed by the desired state).

  • 4
    Filters pass some stuff and don’t pass other stuff. It’s outside of the filter’s domain to decide which is the important stuff.
    – Jim
    Jul 1, 2020 at 18:09
  • 'Filter for' (ie to seek, find and present you with) is used quite widely. An internet example: << The OR operator ... Orange OR Juice ... will filter for mentions of 'orange' OR mentions of 'juice' within your results.... >> [TRAC Keyword Filtering]. But I haven't found a dictionary picking this usage up. Jul 1, 2020 at 18:15
  • Not sure what you mean by "Filter for has been used as filter out." You don't mention "filter out" in your question. Jul 1, 2020 at 22:09
  • While filters out is common (meaning that the things that follow are rejected), I'm not aware of an opposite—such as filters in, which I've never heard, or filters for, which I find equally strange here (although that phrase is fine if it means the same thing as the ambiguous filters). I would say this: ABC is very important, as it filters out low quality and unreliable results. Keep the phrase that's common, and reverse the noun phrase. Jul 1, 2020 at 23:18
  • Yes, "filter for" is ambiguous.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 29, 2020 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


As per Lexico:

filter: Process or assess (items) in order to reject those that are unwanted. ‘you'll be put through to a secretary whose job it is to filter calls’

It's fine to say filter for with the understanding that the filter is removing low-quality and unreliable results, as noted by @JasonBassford. You might want to consider this slight rewrite of your example sentence:

ABC is very important filter for high quality and reliable results.

But again, this means that the filter rejects low-quality and unreliable results.

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