See more synonyms for sorting on
noun Geology.
  1. the process by which sedimentary particles become separated according to some particular characteristic, as size or shape.

Origin of sorting


  1. a particular kind, species, variety, class, or group, distinguished by a common character or nature: to develop a new sort of painting; nice people, of course, but not really our sort.
  2. character, quality, or nature: young people of a nice sort.
  3. an example of something that is undistinguished or barely adequate: He is a sort of poet.
  4. manner, fashion, or way: We spoke in this sort for several minutes.
  5. Printing.
    1. any of the individual characters making up a font of type.
    2. characters of a particular font that are rarely used.
  6. an instance of sorting.
verb (used with object)
  1. to arrange according to sort, kind, or class; separate into sorts; classify: to sort socks; to sort eggs by grade.
  2. to separate or take from other sorts or from others (often followed by out): to sort the good from the bad; to sort out the children's socks.
  3. to assign to a particular class, group, or place (often followed by with, together, etc.): to sort people together indiscriminately.
  4. Scot. to provide with food and shelter.
  5. Computers. to place (records) in order, as numerical or alphabetical, based on the contents of one or more keys contained in each record.Compare key1(def 19).
verb (used without object)
  1. Archaic. to suit; agree; fit.
  2. British Dialect. to associate, mingle, or be friendly.
Verb Phrases
  1. sort out,
    1. evolve; develop; turn out: We'll just have to wait and see how things sort out.
    2. to put in order; clarify: After I sort things out here, I'll be able to concentrate on your problem.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

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Usage note

See kind2. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sorting

Contemporary Examples of sorting

Historical Examples of sorting

  • "I'm sorting the papers in these drawers," she replied in her usual tone of voice.

  • Granger went on sorting out his papers, burning them or putting them aside.

    Murder Point

    Coningsby Dawson

  • Thither went the crowd to await the sorting and ultimate distribution.

    The Depot Master

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • She sought ease from the tenseness of the moment in sorting the roses.

    The Lure of the Mask

    Harold MacGrath

  • They mined the vein, sorting out the ore from the waste and saving every particle.

    Space Prison

    Tom Godwin

British Dictionary definitions for sorting


  1. a class, group, kind, etc, as distinguished by some common quality or characteristic
  2. informal type of character, nature, etche's a good sort
  3. a more or less definable or adequate exampleit's a sort of review
  4. (often plural) printing any of the individual characters making up a fount of type
  5. archaic manner; wayin this sort we struggled home
  6. after a sort to some extent
  7. of sorts or of a sort
    1. of an inferior kind
    2. of an indefinite kind
  8. out of sorts not in normal good health, temper, etc
  9. 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
  1. (tr) to arrange according to class, type, etc
  2. (tr) to put (something) into working order
  3. (tr) to arrange (computer information) by machine in an order convenient to the computer user
  4. (tr foll by with) informal to supply, esp with drugs
  5. (intr; foll by with, together, etc) archaic, or dialect to associate, as on friendly terms
  6. (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 sorting



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

sorting in Science


  1. The process by which sediment particles that have a certain characteristic, such as a given shape or grain size, are separated from other associated particles by an active agent of transportation, such as wind, a stream, or a glacier.
  2. A measure of the degree to which this process has occurred within a body of sediment. Wind-blown sediments are usually well-sorted because only a small range of grain sizes can be lifted by a particular wind velocity. Glacially derived sediments are usually poorly sorted because of the great range of particle sizes that are picked up by a moving glacier.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with sorting


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.