Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
1. To make or become straight or aligned in some way. Can you straighten out those picture frames so they all line up? His teeth look a little crooked now, but they may straighten out as he gets older.
2. To resolve, clarify, or organize some confusion, disorder, or misunderstanding. A noun or pronoun can be used between "straighten" and "out." I need to go straighten things out between me and Sandy. The project got so muddled that they had to bring in an outside advisor to straighten it all out. Please straighten out those files before you go.
3. To improve one's or someone else's behavior, attitude, or course in life. A noun or pronoun can be used between "straighten" and "out." He got into a bit of a rut with his drinking for a while, but he's been trying to straighten himself out lately. The bosses decided to have a meeting with Samantha to try to straighten her out. Every teenager goes through a rebellious phase—I'm sure he'll straighten out when he goes to college.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
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 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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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.
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.