straighten(redirected from straightening)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Encyclopedia.
1. to become straight. The road finally straightened out. The train tracks straightened out on the plain.
2. . to improve one's behavior or attitude. I hope he straightens out before he gets himself into real trouble. Fred had better straighten out soon if he wants to get a job.
straighten someone or something up
1. to put someone or something into an upright position. The fence is tilted. Please straighten that post up when you get a chance. Bill, you're slouching again. Straighten up your back.
2. to tidy up someone or something. John straightened himself up a little before going out for dinner. This room is a mess. Let's straighten up this place, right now!
straighten someone out
1. to make someone's body straight or orderly. The undertaker straightened Sam out in his coffin. Straighten out your body so I can massage your back.
2. . to cause someone to behave better or to have a better attitude; to reform someone. You are terrible. Someone is going to have to straighten you out! The principal straightened out the troublesome boys.
3. to help someone become less confused about something. Can you straighten me out on this matter? I will do what I can to straighten out the office staff on this question.
straighten something out
1. to make something straighter. I can't straighten these heavy boxes out. Please straighten out this line of people.
2. . to bring order to something that is disorderly. See if you can straighten this mess out. Will you straighten out your room, please?
1. to sit or stand more straight. Billy's mother told him to straighten up or he'd fall out of his chair. John straightened up so he'd look taller.
2. . to behave better. Bill was acting badly for a while; then he straightened up. Sally, straighten up, or I will punish you!
straighten up and fly right
Fig. to improve one's behavior or attitude and perform better. (Originally referred to an airplane.) If you want to keep out of trouble, you had better straighten up and fly right. Straighten up and fly right or I will send you to the principal.
straighten somebody outalso straighten out somebody
to cause someone's behavior or character to improve I thought marriage would straighten him out but it hasn't. He plays the part of an uncle trying to straighten out a troubled teenager.
straighten something outalso straighten out something
1. to end uncertainty or confusion about something I'm sorry if our letter was confusing, but I'll straighten that out now. Sometimes I'll feel there's something I need to straighten out because no one's sure what to expect.
2. to arrange or organize something that is in disorder It took her a while to straighten out her father's accounts. When her husband died, there were problems with his will, and it took her a year to straighten them all out.
to start behaving in a more acceptable or correct way If you don't straighten up, I'm going to suspend you from this school.
straighten up somethingalso straighten something up
to make things neat Be sure to straighten up your room before you leave. It was only four-thirty, and she still had time to straighten things up before the guests arrived.
1. Clear up disorder, a confusion, or a misunderstanding, as in This is an awful mess; I hope you'll straighten it out, or I don't understand; please straighten me out. [Late 1800s]
2. Adopt an honest, upright course, as in He's only sixteen; I'm sure he'll straighten out before long. [First half of 1900s]
Make tidy, as in Let's get this room straightened up. [Second half of 1800s]
1. To extend or smooth something until straight: The reception on my radio was poor, so I straightened out the antenna. I think my arm is broken; I can't straighten it out.
2. To resolve some confusion or conflict: We had to share a room until the hotel could straighten out the mix-up with our bookings. There was confusion among the athletes about the order of the races, so the coach came and straightened it out.
3. To make someone conform to a certain viewpoint or set of principles: We need better rehabilitation programs to straighten out these criminals. If your behavior doesn't improve, we'll have to send you to military school to straighten you out.
1. To stand erect: The drill sergeant ordered the recruits to straighten up when they started slouching in formation.
2. To put someone or something in order: I straightened up my bookshelves. The room was starting to look like a disaster zone, so we had to straighten it up. I hired a housekeeper to straighten up around the house once a week. We need to straighten up before your parents arrive.
3. To begin behaving properly: The principal cautioned the students to straighten up or face suspension.
straighten up and fly right
in. to get serious and start behaving properly. Straighten up and fly right before you get into difficulty.