of sorts,
    1. of a mediocre or poor kind: a tennis player of sorts.
    2. of one sort or another; of an indefinite kind.
    Also of a sort.
    out of sorts,
    1. in low spirits; depressed.
    2. in poor health; indisposed; ill.
    3. in a bad temper; irritable: to be out of sorts because of the weather.
    4. Printing.short of certain characters of a font of type.
    sort of, Informal. in a way; somewhat; rather: Their conversation was sort of tiresome.

Origin of sort

1200–50; (noun) Middle English < Middle French sorte < Medieval Latin sort- (stem of sors) kind, allotted status or portion, lot, Latin: orig., voter's lot; (v.) Middle English sorten to allot, arrange, assort (< Middle French sortir) < Latin sortīrī to draw lots, derivative of sors; later senses influenced by the noun and by assort
Related formssort·a·ble, adjectivesort·a·bly, adverbsort·er, nounmis·sort, verbsub·sort, nounsub·sort, verbsub·sort·er, nounun·der·sort, verb (used with object)un·sort, verb (used with object)un·sort·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedkind2 sort type (see usage note at kind2) (see usage note at type)

Synonyms for sort

Usage note

See kind2. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for of a sort



a class, group, kind, etc, as distinguished by some common quality or characteristic
informal type of character, nature, etche's a good sort
a more or less definable or adequate exampleit's a sort of review
(often plural) printing any of the individual characters making up a fount of type
archaic manner; wayin this sort we struggled home
after a sort to some extent
of sorts or of a sort
  1. of an inferior kind
  2. of an indefinite kind
out of sorts not in normal good health, temper, etc
sort of informal
  1. (adverb)in some way or other; as it were; rather
  2. (sentence substitute)used to express reservation or qualified assentI’m only joking. Sort of


(tr) to arrange according to class, type, etc
(tr) to put (something) into working order
(tr) to arrange (computer information) by machine in an order convenient to the computer user
(tr foll by with) informal to supply, esp with drugs
(intr; foll by with, together, etc) archaic, or dialect to associate, as on friendly terms
(intr) archaic to agree; accord
Derived Formssortable, adjectivesortably, adverbsorter, noun

Word Origin for sort

C14: from Old French, from Medieval Latin sors kind, from Latin: fate


See kind 2
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for of a sort



late 14c., from Old French sorte "class, kind," from Latin sortem (nominative sors) "lot; fate, destiny; share, portion; rank, category; sex, class, oracular response, prophecy," from PIE root *ser- (3) "to line up" (cf. Latin serere "to arrange, attach, join;" see series). The sense evolution in Vulgar Latin is from "what is allotted to one by fate," to "fortune, condition," to "rank, class, order." Out of sorts "not in usual good condition" is attested from 1620s, with literal sense of "out of stock."



mid-14c., "to arrange according to type or quality," from Old French sortir "allot, sort, assort," from Latin sortiri "draw lots, divide, choose," from sors (see sort (n.)). In some senses, the verb is a shortened form of assort.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with of a sort

of a sort

see of sorts.


see after a fashion (sort); all kinds (sorts) of; bad sort; it takes all sorts; kind (sort) of; nothing of the kind (sort); of sorts; out of sorts.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.