sort out

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sort (oneself) out

1. To make oneself presentable; to fix one's appearance. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is used between "sort" and "out." A: "People from the local newspaper want to do an interview with you." B: "OK, tell them I just need 15 minutes to sort myself out first." You're a mess, Tom—your clothes are dirty and you smell like you haven't showered in a week. Take the rest of the day off, go home, and sort yourself out.
2. To begin to think or act appropriately. In this usage, a reflexive pronoun is used between "sort" and "out." I know you're stressed out, but you need to sort yourself out and get this report done! I hope she sorts herself out soon. We need her to be focused heading into this trial.
3. To understand, organize, or resolve some issues or problems one is facing. I know you're grappling with a lot right now, so please feel free to take some time off from work to sort yourself out. The manager just left his team to sort themselves out whenever they ran into difficulty with the project.
4. To become calm or stable; to collect one's thoughts and emotions. I was so upset that I had to step outside for a minute so I could sort myself out. The witness tried to sort himself out before resuming his heartbreaking testimony.
See also: out, sort

sort out

1. To separate and arrange something according to certain properties. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sort" and "out." We need to sort these clothes out and decide what we're going to keep. My job is to sort out the recyclables so that all the paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass goes to the right part of the facility.
2. To understand or resolve a problem or conflict. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sort" and "out." They brought in the head of human resources to sort the issue out. I've spent nearly an hour on this math problem, but I still can't sort it out.
3. To correct, discipline, reprimand, or punish someone for their behavior. A noun or pronoun can be used between "sort" and "out." The disciplinarian had to come in to sort out the unruly students. A: "The new accountant has been giving me nothing but grief since he began." B: "Don't worry, I'll go sort him out."
See also: out, sort
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

sort oneself out

to pull oneself together; to figure out what to do about one's problems. (Fig. on sort something out {2}.) I need a few days to sort myself out. I need some time to sort myself out.
See also: out, sort

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.
See also: out, sort
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

sort 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.
See also: out, sort
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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