Definition of sort in US English:



  • 1A category of things or people having some common feature; a type.

    ‘if only we knew the sort of people she was mixing with’
    ‘a radical change poses all sorts of questions’
    • ‘All sorts of new technologies are now being built into buildings and into computer systems in a way that hadn't been done before, because of this.’
    • ‘All sorts of vacation camps have been springing up all over the place during the holidays, offering programmes ranging from yoga to karaoke classes.’
    • ‘All sorts of rumors had been circulating over the weeks prior, and me being the secretive type, derived a perverse pleasure in being privy to the real story.’
    • ‘All sorts of fascinating information is bubbling up from the depths and flooding in from the ethers this week.’
    • ‘All sorts of casseroles, stews and braised dishes work well cooked in just one pot, but you can also consider soup for starters and steamed or baked sponge pudding afterwards.’
    • ‘All sorts of institutions could be opened up to greater balance: lawyers, bankers, football coaches, the Joint Chiefs of Staff.’
    • ‘How does race fit into those sorts of categories?’
    • ‘All sorts of treasures have been found in the pile of waste, which is why the council receives income from the salvage contractor to help provide funding for a recycling advisor at the site.’
    • ‘All sorts of implications go racing through your mind at this time and I wanted to share these with you.’
    • ‘All sorts of stories about his past are doing the rounds ahead of what is called a major profile on the Sunday this weekend.’
    • ‘All sorts of theories were being bandied about.’
    • ‘All sorts of people receive Honorary Doctorates for their respective contributions to the region's development but so far, I have not heard your name.’
    • ‘All sorts of weather records were smashed by devastating storms, but there's a reason behind all of this meteorological madness.’
    • ‘All sorts of once-dominant communication media have fallen by the wayside, just as soon as something better has come along.’
    • ‘All sorts of different kinds of property are treated differently by the law, not just intellectual property.’
    • ‘All sorts of interesting testable hypotheses open up here.’
    • ‘All sorts of plants grow in rock gardens, thriving in sunny warm spots, dry ravines, damp gullies, and many other variations of temperature and soil conditions.’
    • ‘All sorts of fringe players set up on the pavement.’
    • ‘All sorts of people and groups will be making their way to the South Australian arid north, and ‘Earthdream’ will be one of those.’
    • ‘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
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal with adjective A person of a specified nature.
      ‘Frank was a genuinely friendly sort’
      • ‘This far northeast, leagues from the Dragon's Jaw, it was highly doubtful that any dragons in the area were of the friendly sort.’
      • ‘The streets were empty of ‘decent folk’ and were rapidly filling with a different sort altogether.’
      • ‘Of course, I'm not by nature a cheek-turning sort, but I think that has too often been the administration's approach.’
      • ‘The driver doesn't charge her for this journey, presumably because he's a thoroughly decent salt of the earth English sort who knows his place in society.’
      • ‘The young man's friend, a dour bespectacled sort, was unruffled.’
      • ‘This will demonstrate to the world that you are a friendly sort with a wide social circle - or at least they'll keep you company as you sit alone in your room on the first night.’
      • ‘Her lady friend was a different sort altogether.’
      • ‘Sasha Roiz plays Piero, the dutiful son who gets the serving-girl pregnant, as a decent sort caught way out of his element.’
      • ‘Ryan has owned some very decent sorts in the past and this one will go on to bigger and better things.’
      • ‘One jumper from our barn sat aboard my Absolut horse who is a very friendly sort.’
      • ‘While scholars pondered the divine nature of light, other more humble sorts like sailors, artists and surveyors learnt to use light for practical purposes.’
      • ‘He's a champion little chap and his mother seems a decent sort as well.’
      • ‘Two other fellows, the wandering sort if one judged by their gypsy attire, sat hunched over their table in the corner closest to the big picture window looking out onto the dirt highway.’
      • ‘There are a wide variety of people out on the street - whalemen of all kind, from the decent sort to the country bumpkin.’
      • ‘Brosnan tried to steer clear of James Bond questions while pumping up Evelyn; he actually seemed like a fairly decent sort.’
      • ‘Once, bejewelled blokes were considered queer sorts; now smart gents about town are increasingly accessorising with a touch of sparkle.’
      • ‘As decent sorts go, Blake is about as good as they get.’
      • ‘He sent me quite a handsome apology for his abuse of me so I think he is a pretty decent sort, basically.’
      • ‘Bookish and academic, Snyder is at the same time a friendly sort whose soft-spoken demeanor draws people in.’
      • ‘Ah, well even if he does, Pat Donnelly is a decent sort, I'm sure he'll understand!’
      person, individual, soul, creature, human being
      View synonyms
  • 2Computing
    The arrangement of data in a prescribed sequence.

    • ‘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.’
  • 3archaic A manner or way.

    ‘in law also the Judge is in a sort superior to his King’
    • ‘It forms, in a sort, or is to form, the compensating balance-wheel of the successful working machinery of aggregate America.’
    • ‘Gitmo, as it has become known, still remains in a sort legal limbo.’
  • 4Printing
    A letter or piece in a font of type.

    • ‘A complete set of letters and other sorts, uniform in size and style, constitutes a fount of type.’


[with object]
  • 1Arrange systematically in groups; separate according to type, class, etc.

    ‘she sorted out the clothes, some to be kept, some to be thrown away’
    • ‘Playing with different sizes of sticks or stones and making designs or sorting pieces of fabric represent pre-mathematics.’
    • ‘All this activity can move rocks the way frost does when it shatters, heaves, and sorts the pieces into patterns.’
    • ‘The software itself is quick to load and provides plenty of further options for organising and sorting your mail.’
    • ‘Today she was sorting the spices cabinet in alphabetical order, having run out of labels and tags to cut off things.’
    • ‘The children sorted the materials and organized the area.’
    • ‘We attempt to order the world by sorting its features under pairs of opposites, but opposites in the real world never match up neatly with our conceptual opposites.’
    • ‘Given data on planetary orbits, conventional GA could only perform mundane tasks like sorting them into ascending order of diameter.’
    • ‘As I sorted the mail, I made little organized piles on the dining room table.’
    • ‘The study sorted out the data according to the competitiveness of the race.’
    • ‘Well, the standard creationist answer is that they were sorted into that order by the flood.’
    • ‘The new services, however, will not include travelling post offices to sort mail and are a fraction of the 60 nightly trains that ran two years ago.’
    • ‘Questions were running through my mind faster than what I could sort them in to order and ask them.’
    • ‘I spent about four hours rearranging my diaryring layout below, as well as sorting them into alphabetical order.’
    • ‘Then, the cells were sorted in order of decreasing probability.’
    • ‘I'd like you to place all these badges into badge holders, check them off against this spreadsheet and then sort them into alphabetical order.’
    • ‘While I wait for them to cook, I clean out the cupboards, sorting the cans in order of size and preference to what's in them.’
    • ‘He can sort the results geographically by office to catch patches of entropy quickly.’
    • ‘The markers are sorted by their position on the genome starting with chromosome 1 through chromosome 20.’
    • ‘The filters are sorted in ascending order, based on their priorities.’
    • ‘These slips were then sorted into alphabetical order.’
    classify, class, categorize, catalogue, grade, rank, group, divide, sort out
    organize, arrange, sort, put in order, set in order, straighten out, marshal, dispose, lay out, regulate
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1sort through Look at (a group of things) one after another in order to classify them or make a selection.
      ‘she sat down and sorted through her mail’
      • ‘I spent the better part of yesterday sorting through boxes of photographs.’
      • ‘And the team is sorting through some 2,000 different samples, some dating back to the early 1900s.’
      • ‘Once a good number of pics has been received we will sort through them and select the top ten to vote for.’
      • ‘I sit on a stiff leather backed chair flicking through an impenetrable legal periodical as the receptionist sorts through the post.’
      • ‘That was what Ben and Lisa were here to tell me after sorting through our rubbish.’
      • ‘The other picture shows women sorting through the waste.’
      • ‘Robert, who lives near Bromley in Kent, had the unhappy task of sorting through the contents of his parents' neat red brick bungalow.’
      • ‘While sorting through old photographs at my mother's house one Christmas, I came across a photograph that was to haunt me for years.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Just the sort of information you need when sorting through a tottering pile of CDs.’
      • ‘While he is putting the drying up away, I am sitting on the sofa in the living room, sorting through papers.’
      • ‘Clarke sorts through the mail and opens two envelopes containing cheques: one for $50, one for $250.’
      • ‘Most days, the child is deposited on the pavement across the road as the mother sorts through the garbage.’
      • ‘Policies vary radically, and a good travel agent can be a huge asset in sorting through the maze of options.’
      • ‘Imagine… they sorted through these little letters and must have discussed which family they could have come from.’
      • ‘I found this photo while I was sorting through some boxes of stuff, and realised it must have been taken five years ago this week.’
      • ‘The important thing is to get the music to them so they can sort through a selection and make their choices.’
      • ‘I was sorting through a shocking pile of spam just now.’
      • ‘We're currently sorting through the bash of pictures, so stay tuned for photos!’
      • ‘Workers went through state warehouses, sorting through thousands of items.’
  • 2Resolve (a problem or difficulty)

    ‘the teacher helps the children to sort out their problems’
    • ‘‘There might be certain issues that will be sorted out,’ he says sanguinely.’
    • ‘Innocent believes that the existing differences should be sorted out especially when the industry was recuperating after a poor season last year.’
    • ‘The meeting was adjourned with promises from the councillors that they would meet with senior engineers in the council and the matter would be sorted as soon as possible.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think there's a feeling that there's a great weight off his shoulders and at long last that whole issue of whether to marry her and so on has been sorted out.’
    • ‘Two years ago they told us if they were in power Social Services would soon be sorted.’
    • ‘If China is going to become the world's No 1 economy, this needs to be sorted out.’
    • ‘Families can get in real financial trouble if this is not sorted soon!’
    • ‘I am just having a bit of difficulty sorting out which bit is of concern to the House.’
    • ‘She is not going back to school until this is sorted out, because these bullies have threatened to do it again.’
    • ‘However as when any new system is introduced there are wrinkles to be sorted out.’
    • ‘The whole question of the Scottish parliament is a constitutional muddle and it needs to be sorted out.’
    • ‘At long last, the work has now been completed, problems with the water system have been sorted out, and the only thing left to do is mark out the pitch, which has finally dried out.’
    • ‘The judge then emerged and said, because of legal issues that had to be sorted out, there was going to be a one-week delay in the proceedings.’
    • ‘That was given both financially and in the amount of time spent sorting out difficulties within the sector and it really has to put its hand up and admit a pretty poor performance in terms of what might have been.’
    • ‘The situation has been sorted out, according to Dell, which did not reveal how many shoppers were affected.’
    • ‘He had to anchor in Weymouth Bay with steering problems, but soon sorted that out and headed on past Portland Bill with his two escort trawlers, Fort Albert and Horatio.’
    • ‘Either way we need to sort out poverty and sustainability together or neither will be sorted.’
    • ‘Policy differences, the Left had maintained when the UPA government was being formed with their support, can be sorted out over a cup of tea.’
    resolve, settle, sort out, solve, find a solution to, find an answer to, fix, work out, straighten out, deal with, put right, set right, put to rights, rectify, iron out
    resolve, settle, sort, solve, find a solution to, find an answer to, fix, work out, straighten out, deal with, put right, set right, put to rights, rectify, iron out
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 Resolve the problems or difficulties of (oneself)
      ‘I need time to sort myself out’
      • ‘Try asking nicely in the comments box, and maybe some kind soul can sort you out.’
      • ‘After twenty minutes on hold, a helpful lass answered and promised to sort us out.’
      • ‘I know my mum very well and I know that if Tom lives with her again she will not cope with it, but at the same time I know that if Tom isn't sorted out, my step-dad will become ill with worry.’
      • ‘I honestly thought that the Council would have sorted us out with a house by now,’ Nicola said.’
      • ‘Bought a new cycle computer + stem mount from Condor Cycles on Gray's Inn Road: yesterday I went to Evans and they were absolutely useless, but Condor sorted me out: the stem mount is better because it gives me full use of my aerobars.’
      • ‘We were in real trouble before he came to us and he sorted us out.’
      • ‘Anyway, the doc sorted me out, although, being a typical Australian Male, I believe I could have done the same thing at home with a swiss army knife, a candle, a bottle of metho and a mirror.’
      • ‘No matter how bad I feel, a bottle of the orange stuff sorts me out.’
      • ‘A Greek father would say to his son: ‘If you marry this Greek girl, this friend of our family, we'll sort you out with a position in the family business, and a house in Southgate.’’
      • ‘A good cup of coffee really sorts me out, I think David Lynch used to get high on caffeine before he brainstormed his films… anyway, it works for me as well, although I still can't remember what I was thinking about last night.’
      • ‘I thank whoever arranged for allowing Sharon to come into my life. She has lifted my depression and is patiently sorting me out.’
      • ‘But the discipline at the school soon sorted me out.’
      • ‘If that doesn't sort you out, phone the emergency services.’
      • ‘‘The Cocteau Twins basically sorted me out as a teenager,’ says Steven McConnell bluntly, being the only representative of the team behind Benbecula who will break the anonymity barrier so beloved of many electronic acts.’
      • ‘I've made mistakes but the academy sorted me out.’
      • ‘John sorted me out with running kit five minutes before the race started by chucking me his spare trainers.’
      • ‘If anyone still fancies a copy drop me a line and I'll sort you out…’
      • ‘I told him I still loved him and I resolved to help him sort himself out when he felt he was up to it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We've been out of contact with the world, while the rain's poured down, but fortunately the gendarmerie have come and sorted us out.’
      resolve, settle, sort out, solve, find a solution to, find an answer to, fix, work out, straighten out, deal with, put right, set right, put to rights, rectify, iron out
      View synonyms


The construction these sort of, as in I don't want to answer these sort of questions, is technically ungrammatical because these is plural and needs to agree with a plural noun (sorts). The construction is undoubtedly common, however, and has been used for hundreds of years. There are some grammarians who analyze the construction differently, seeing the words "these sort of” as a single invariable unit. For more details, see kind


  • after a sort

    • dated After a fashion.

      • ‘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’
      • ‘They were in some sort happy in the opportunity of their death.’
  • nothing of the sort

    • Used as an emphatic way of denying permission or refuting an earlier statement or assumption.

      ‘“I'll pay.” “You'll do nothing of the sort.”’
      • ‘Mowbray insisted he had done nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘The offence was compounded by the proliferation of tables purporting to show elaborate corrections for age factors, but in fact doing nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘I think she got a rude shock when I did nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘Now Alexander said nothing of the sort, and, neither did Gilchrist get his permission.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gabriel did nothing of the sort, but logged the property to fund his own private ventures, concerning the nature of which I am thankfully ignorant.’
      • ‘He did nothing of the sort: two weeks later she was shipped to the Theresienstadt camp in Czechoslovakia and then taken to Auschwitz for gassing.’
      • ‘The horticulture department has done nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘The fact is that many of these so-called ‘real-time bookings’ which other sites claim are nothing of the sort.’
      • ‘While he may continue to profess a desire for an ‘informed national debate’ it seems increasingly likely he wants nothing of the sort.’
  • of a sort

    • informal Of an atypical and typically inferior type.

      ‘the training camp actually became a tourist attraction of sorts’
      • ‘Then came some more shocking photos and an apology of sorts on Thursday.’
      • ‘He clearly feels the fame, of sorts, now conferred upon him is unwarranted.’
      • ‘On the fourth day of Eid, one of my uncles absolutely insisted on a family reunion of sorts at his house.’
      • ‘I'm going to have to come up with a game of sorts with rules and things.’
      • ‘They met on Easter Sunday, 1995, a day which marks a resurrection of sorts for Barker.’
      • ‘It would be reasonable to conclude Princess Diaries 2 offered a refuge of sorts.’
      • ‘I was at a party of sorts at the weekend, although it was an older persons party.’
      • ‘The campaign is also a ready reckoner of sorts for those who are still not sure of traffic rules and signs.’
      • ‘Red House is a museum of sorts furnished as it was like in the mid 1800's with a very good, well stocked garden.’
      • ‘Then the veteran of the Canadian metal scene then went on a sabbatical of sorts.’
  • out of sorts

    • 1Slightly unwell.

      ‘feeling nauseous and generally out of sorts’
      • ‘Burchill's third goal in as many games, maybe it was just his lack of match sharpness that made him look out of sorts in his initial outings in Dens Park colours.’
      • ‘With Harrington pulling his iron shots and looking slightly out of sorts, it was left to Montgomerie to steady the European ship.’
      • ‘They were out of sorts, below us in the table and quite happy to go off at half-time.’
      • ‘But any nerves harboured by Hibernian were swiftly expunged with a brace of gift-wrapped goals against adversaries who were lethargic, lacklustre and terribly out of sorts.’
      • ‘I'm not bad, exactly, just off colour, no appetite and out of sorts.’
      • ‘An early penalty award saw Flynner's goal effort stopped and cleared, and then there were those awful misses from frees by an out of sorts Dave Bennett and Flynn in turn.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Hertford, carrying the burden of a number of important injuries and approaching the game on the back of a dreadful run of results, were out of sorts from start to finish.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The opening session finished level at 4-4 with an out of sorts Williams snatching the final two frames on the colours after O'Brien had capitalised on his opponent's errors.’
      unwell, ill, poorly, bad, indisposed, not oneself, sick, queasy, nauseous, nauseated, peaky, liverish, green about the gills, run down, washed out
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1In low spirits; irritable.
        ‘the trying events of the day had put him out of sorts’
        • ‘As the name change suggests, 57-year old Kate's a bit out of sorts.’
        • ‘‘I felt fearful, irritable, I was really tired but I couldn't sleep and I generally felt out of sorts with the world,’ she said.’
        • ‘Upon returning to the USA, Bret found himself sleeping poorly, becoming irritable and generally acting and feeling out of sorts.’
        • ‘It must have been a new environment that put him out of sorts.’
        • ‘I wasn't sure what music I'd be walking to, so I was a bit out of sorts.’
        • ‘The boarding and takeoff found me only slightly out of sorts; an irritating whining noise near the gate was troubling me.’
        • ‘Are you feeling angry, impatient, or out of sorts every time you think of it?’
        • ‘I had been slightly depressed and out of sorts long before the dreaded 9/11, and all the grief and horror of that day had deepened the state.’
        • ‘I feel out of sorts and all over the place mentally and emotionally.’
        • ‘Ever wake up feeling out of sorts for no apparent reason?’
        irritable, irascible, peevish, fractious, fretful, cross, crabbed, crabby, crotchety, cantankerous, curmudgeonly, disagreeable, petulant, pettish
        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
        View synonyms
  • sort of

    • informal To some extent; in some way or other (used to convey inexactness or vagueness)

      ‘“Do you see what I mean?” “Sort of,” answered Jean cautiously’
      • ‘I'm going on my own with no clue about who is going to be there, which is sort of scary.’
      • ‘What I want to ask is, was all of this in your mind or did it sort of happen as you went along?’
      • ‘You spray it in a big gap, and it sort of foams up dramatically in order to fill said aperture.’
      • ‘He was always in a sort of bad temper about not being able to get jobs he thought he was equipped for.’
      • ‘I sort of agreed with the proviso that she might like to come if the weather was not too hot.’
      • ‘I sort of assume you do so much writing that you don't need to do anything to keep sharp.’
      • ‘Johnny was so able to be a child on the set that it was sort of like working with five children for me!’
      • ‘You go to a bookshop, and you look at the kinds of books that are sort of like yours.’
      • ‘There were a lot of scenes that were so awkward that it sort of made me squirm and look away.’
      • ‘I had taken the place of this girl singer and had sort of muscled my way into the band.’
      slightly, faintly, remotely, vaguely
      as it were, in a kind of way, in a strange kind of way, somehow
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘He says that he isn't the marrying sort.’

Phrasal Verbs

  • sort someone out

    • Deal with someone who is causing trouble, typically by restraining, reprimanding, or punishing them.

      ‘if he can't pay you, I'll sort him out’
      • ‘Die the death you deserve, and let God sort you out.’
      • ‘Because he was the one who openly declared after taking power that he would sort India out and avenge Kargil.’
      • ‘‘Malmesbury School is trying to sort Tom out but it seems to be making things worse,’ he said.’
      • ‘He'll turn up in the morning to sort us out, that's for sure.’
      • ‘Unless we get our act together God will sort us out!’
      • ‘I will be back with an army of men from Manchester to sort you out.’
      • ‘If you don't get (my son] sorted, I will come back and sort you out.’
      • ‘Later, an improbable cop sorts Clem out: ‘You're what I call a sins-of-the-world type.’’
      • ‘She turned around to see Weston pedalling away and he yelled at her: ‘I know where you live and I'm going to sort you out.’’
      • ‘I expect some folk will take this opportunity to tell my parents how bad I've been - that I've completely back-slidden and they'd better sort me out while they're here.’
      • ‘He directed the defendant to leave the area but he failed to comply and remarked: ‘He was going to sort this out and he was going to sort me out.’’
  • sort something out

    • 1Separate something from a mixed group.

      ‘she started sorting out the lettuce from the spinach’
      • ‘The game involved them sorting the cards out into several shifting categories of species, weaknesses and grades.’
      • ‘Trent quickly sorted the names out into two separate columns.’
      • ‘I am all for recycling and happily sorted my waste out for disposal in the separate skips.’
      • ‘She is uniquely positioned to sort fact from fiction in this nascent field.’
      separate, separate out, pick out, divide, isolate, remove, segregate, sift, sieve, weed out, winnow
      View synonyms
    • 2Arrange or organize something.

      ‘they are anxious to sort out traveling arrangements’
      • ‘I've sorted the travel - that's no problem.’
      resolve, settle, sort, solve, find a solution to, find an answer to, fix, work out, straighten out, deal with, put right, set right, put to rights, rectify, iron out
      View synonyms


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