Definition of sort in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /sɔːt/


1A category of things or people with a common feature; a type: if only we knew the sort of people she was mixing with a radical change poses all sorts of questions
More example sentences
  • All sorts of different kinds of property are treated differently by the law, not just intellectual property.
  • All sorts of implications go racing through your mind at this time and I wanted to share these with you.
  • All sorts of cries started to ring out from the animals - starting first with the large black birds flying overhead.
type, kind, variety, class, category, classification, style;
description, condition, calibre, quality, nature, manner, design, shape, form, pattern, group, set, bracket, genre, species, rank, genus, family, order, breed, race, strain, generation, vintage, make, model, brand, stamp, ilk, kidney, cast, grain, mould
North American informal stripe
1.1 [with adjective] informal A person of a specified nature: Frank was a genuinely friendly sort
More example sentences
  • He sent me quite a handsome apology for his abuse of me so I think he is a pretty decent sort, basically.
  • He's a champion little chap and his mother seems a decent sort as well.
  • Brosnan tried to steer clear of James Bond questions while pumping up Evelyn; he actually seemed like a fairly decent sort.
person, individual, soul, creature, human being;
man, woman, boy, girl
informal fellow, chap, bloke, lad, guy, geezer, gent, kid, brat, character, type, beggar, cookie, customer
British informal bod
North American informal dude, hombre
Australian informal bastard
informal, dated body, dog
British informal, dated cove
British vulgar slang sod, bugger
archaic wight
2 [mass noun] Computing The arrangement of data in a prescribed sequence.
Example sentences
  • Both cache size and sort size affect memory usage, so you cannot maximize one without affecting the other.
  • Another beneficial practice is to perform an exploratory card sort once the content for the website is determined.
3 archaic A manner or way: in law also the Judge is in a sort superior to his King
More example sentences
  • Gitmo, as it has become known, still remains in a sort legal limbo.
  • It forms, in a sort, or is to form, the compensating balance-wheel of the successful working machinery of aggregate America.


[with object]
1Arrange systematically in groups; separate according to type: the mail was sorted she sorted out the clothes, some to be kept, some to be thrown away
More example sentences
  • The study sorted out the data according to the competitiveness of the race.
  • The children sorted the materials and organized the area.
  • Playing with different sizes of sticks or stones and making designs or sorting pieces of fabric represent pre-mathematics.
classify, class, categorize, catalogue, grade, rank, group, divide, sort out;
organize, arrange, order, put in order, marshal, assemble, collocate, codify, tabulate, systematize, systemize, structure, pigeonhole;
Medicine  triage
rare methodize
organize, arrange, sort, put in order, set in order, straighten out, marshal, dispose, lay out, regulate;
group, classify, categorize, catalogue, codify, systematize, systemize, tabulate
rare methodize
1.1 [no object] (sort through) Look at (a group of things) in succession in order to classify them or make a selection: she sat down and sorted through her mail
More example sentences
  • The important thing is to get the music to them so they can sort through a selection and make their choices.
  • Once a good number of pics has been received we will sort through them and select the top ten to vote for.
  • The storm of comments has forced the provincial government to delay releasing the study's final guidelines while it sorts through and incorporates the comments into the document.
2Resolve (a problem or difficulty): the teacher helps the children to sort out their problems
More example sentences
  • However, some expect the group to emerge form bankruptcy sometime next year, once it has sorted its problems.
  • But the bulk of the problem is that social work departments are not incentivised to sort this problem.
  • Either way we need to sort out poverty and sustainability together or neither will be sorted.
2.1Resolve the problems or difficulties of: I need time to sort myself out
More example sentences
  • I told him I still loved him and I resolved to help him sort himself out when he felt he was up to it.
  • We were in real trouble before he came to us and he sorted us out.
  • Many attempts have been made to sort you out but your criminal behaviour in December last year and early this year indicates you still have problems.


The construction these sort of, as in I don’t want to answer these sort of questions, is technically ungrammatical. This is because these is plural and needs to agree with a plural noun (in this case sorts rather than sort). The construction is undoubtedly common and has been used for hundreds of years, but is best avoided in formal writing. See also kind1 (usage).



after a sort

dated After a fashion.
Example sentences
  • However, the mini-adventure solves the problem of getting the players to Middenheim, so it is successful after a sort.

in some sort

dated To a certain extent: I am in some sort indebted to you
More example sentences
  • They were in some sort happy in the opportunity of their death.

it takes all sorts to make a world

proverb People vary greatly in character, tastes, and abilities (often used as a comment on what the speaker feels to be strange behaviour): he was wearing make-up—well, it takes all sorts
More example sentences
  • I read that Wittgenstein thought the old English expression ‘it takes all sorts to make a world’ a kind and goodly phrase - and so it is.
  • They say it takes all sorts to make a world, and it seems to me that it takes all sorts to break it as well.
  • To cut a long story short, it takes all sorts to make a world, and it takes all sorts to make a virtual world too.

nothing of the sort

Used as an emphatic way of denying permission or refuting an earlier statement: ‘I’ll pay.’ ‘You’ll do nothing of the sort.’
More example sentences
  • Now Alexander said nothing of the sort, and, neither did Gilchrist get his permission.
  • While he may continue to profess a desire for an ‘informed national debate’ it seems increasingly likely he wants nothing of the sort.
  • As far as disrupting the drug trade, they did nothing of the sort, which is just fine, because no doubt few residents feel it's a good idea to disrupt it.

of a sort

(or of sorts)
informal Of a somewhat unusual or inferior kind: the training camp actually became a tourist attraction of sorts
More example sentences
  • It would be reasonable to conclude Princess Diaries 2 offered a refuge of sorts.
  • I'm going to have to come up with a game of sorts with rules and things.
  • I was at a party of sorts at the weekend, although it was an older persons party.

out of sorts

Slightly unwell: she’s been feeling nauseous and generally out of sorts
More example sentences
  • With Tiger slightly out of sorts last year, the Americans had to hold off a stiff challenge from hosts Argentina, who were represented by Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera.
  • Occasionally, as if by accident, Nora's daughter Beth would turn up, a bit weary from the sea and slightly out of sorts, and Nora would do her best to get her seaworthy again.
  • With Harrington pulling his iron shots and looking slightly out of sorts, it was left to Montgomerie to steady the European ship.
unwell, ill, poorly, bad, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out;
British  off, off colour
informal under the weather, below par, not up to par, not up to the mark, funny, peculiar, rough, lousy, rotten, awful, terrible, dreadful, crummy
British informal grotty, ropy
Scottish informal wabbit, peely-wally
Australian/New Zealand informal crook
dated seedy
6.1In low spirits; irritable: the trying events of the day had put him out of sorts
More example sentences
  • The boarding and takeoff found me only slightly out of sorts; an irritating whining noise near the gate was troubling me.
  • Upon returning to the USA, Bret found himself sleeping poorly, becoming irritable and generally acting and feeling out of sorts.
  • Are you feeling angry, impatient, or out of sorts every time you think of it?
irritable, irascible, peevish, fractious, fretful, cross, crabbed, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, petulant, pettish;
on edge, edgy, impatient, complaining, querulous, peppery, bitter, moody, grumpy, huffy, scratchy, ill-tempered, bad-tempered, ill-natured, ill-humoured, sullen, surly, sulky, sour, churlish, touchy, testy, tetchy, snappish, waspish, crusty, bilious, liverish, dyspeptic, splenetic, choleric
informal snappy, chippy, grouchy, cranky, whingeing, whingy
British informal narky, ratty, eggy, stroppy, shirty
North American informal peckish, sorehead, soreheaded
Australian/New Zealand informal snaky
informal, dated miffy
unhappy, dejected, sad, miserable, down, downhearted, downcast, depressed, blue, melancholy, morose, gloomy, glum, dispirited, discouraged, disheartened, despondent, disconsolate, with a long face, forlorn, crestfallen, woebegone, subdued, fed up, low, in low spirits, in the doldrums, heavy-hearted
informal down in the dumps, down in the mouth
British informal brassed off, cheesed off, browned off, peed off
North American informal teed off, ticked off
vulgar slang pissed off

sort of

informal To some extent; in some way or other: ‘Do you see what I mean?’ ‘Sort of,’ answered Jean cautiously
More example sentences
  • I'm going on my own with no clue about who is going to be there, which is sort of scary.
  • You spray it in a big gap, and it sort of foams up dramatically in order to fill said aperture.
  • I sort of assume you do so much writing that you don't need to do anything to keep sharp.
slightly, faintly, remotely, vaguely;
somewhat, moderately, quite, rather, fairly, reasonably, comparatively, relatively, to a limited extent/degree, to a certain degree, to some extent
informal pretty, kind of, kinda, ish
as it were, in a (strange) kind of way, somehow

sort out the men from the boys

Show or prove who is the best at a particular activity.
Example sentences
  • The mountains apparently sort out the men from the boys.

the —— sort

The kind of person likely to do or be involved with the thing specified: she’d never imagined Steve to be the marrying sort
More example sentences
  • He says that he isn't the marrying sort.

Phrasal verbs


sort someone out

informal Deal with a troublesome person, typically by reprimanding or punishing them: if he can’t pay you, I’ll sort him out
More example sentences
  • Later, an improbable cop sorts Clem out: ‘You're what I call a sins-of-the-world type.’
  • If you don't get (my son] sorted, I will come back and sort you out.
  • I will be back with an army of men from Manchester to sort you out.

sort something out

1Separate something from a mixed group: she sorted out the lettuce from the spinach
More example sentences
  • I am all for recycling and happily sorted my waste out for disposal in the separate skips.
  • Trent quickly sorted the names out into two separate columns.
  • The game involved them sorting the cards out into several shifting categories of species, weaknesses and grades.
separate (out), pick out, divide, isolate, remove, segregate, sift, sieve, weed out, winnow;
keep apart;
put to one side
2Arrange or organize something: they are anxious to sort out travelling arrangements
More example sentences
  • I've sorted the travel - that's no problem.



Pronunciation: /ˈsɔːtəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • People one knows are thus conveniently sortable into three categories, rather than just two.
  • Queries for ‘digital cameras’ or ‘black socks’ return a list of products sortable by price or by merchant.
  • The resources, interests and experiences of your volunteers should be documented on their volunteer sign-up form, and entered into a sortable database.


Pronunciation: /ˈsɔːtə/
Example sentences
  • Everyone was great, most of the wool sorters were Bradfordians and I can't begin to say how good those days were.
  • The owners were devastated to see the shed - which contained go-karts, a tractor, tomato sorters, a motorhome and several other items - melt to the ground on Monday morning.
  • There used to be a big General Post Office round the corner, and its sandwich-nibbling sorters earned this place the unlikely nickname ‘Postman's Park’.


Late Middle English: from Old French sorte, from an alteration of Latin sors, sort- 'lot, condition'.

  • sorcerer from Late Middle English:

    A sorcerer was originally a sorser. The word comes via Old French sorcier from Latin sors ‘lot, fortune’, the root of sort (Late Middle English). The Latin relates to the use of oracles and the casting of lots to foretell the future. A sorcerer's apprentice is a person who starts a process but is then unable to control it without help. This is the translation of the French L'apprenti sorcier, the title of an 1897 symphonic poem by Paul Dukas based on Der Zauberlehrling, a ballad written in 1797 by the German poet and dramatist Goethe. In this ballad the apprentice's use of magic spells when his master is absent sets in motion a series of events which he cannot control.

Words that rhyme with sort

abort, apport, assort, athwart, aught, besought, bethought, bort, bought, brought, caught, cavort, comport, consort, contort, Cort, court, distraught, escort, exhort, export, extort, fort, fought, fraught, import, methought, misreport, mort, naught, nought, Oort, ought, outfought, port, Porte, purport, quart, rort, short, snort, sought, sport, support, swart, taught, taut, thought, thwart, tort, transport, wart, wrought

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sort

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.