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sort something out
1. Lit. to sort something; to arrange according to class or category. Let's sort these cards out. Would you please sort out your socks?
2. Fig. to study a problem and figure it out. I can't sort this out without some more time. Let's sort out this mess and settle it once and for all.
sort something outalso sort out something
to deal successfully with a problem or a situation We know that our boys have gotten into trouble with the law, but our family is working on sorting it out. Detectives are still sorting out who was involved in the crime.
Usage notes: often in the form sort things out: We haven't had many chances to talk to each other and sort things out.
1. To separate some class, kind, or size from others: I sorted out the blue socks and washed them separately. We sorted the rotten fruit out from the rest and threw it away.
2. To arrange some collection according to class, kind, or size: I sorted out the pile of photos and put them in the appropriate albums. The jeweler sorted the diamonds out by weight and clarity.
3. To resolve some confusion or conflict: It took me an hour to sort out the problem with my reservation. The couple almost broke up, but they managed to sort things out.
4. Slang To punish someone or correct someone's behavior: If they keep messing around, I'll have to go sort them out.