Did the English word sort originate from the French word sort?

e.g., sortie.

Whereas, in French its meaning derives to out, exit, going out.

How did it end up in English to mean category, class/type, arrangement, manner/pattern?

2 Answers 2


Latin sortiri meant: "to select", "to choose by lot". And it retained that meaning in Old French sortir. Sortir took the meaning of "to exit" in the 16th century, so long after the French and their language had invaded Britain. (The OED provides an example of the use of "sort" in English in a sentence by Chaucer dated 1374).
Up to the 16th century Old French essir (issir) was used to express the movement of going out. French issue (hence the English issue meaning exit) come from that Old French issir.

So the origin of the word sort in English seems pretty straightforward. What is less straightforward is how the word took the meaning of go out in Modern French. Various assumptions are made. Will try and post something on that on FL&U.

I posted something in Fl&U chatroom.

  • Maybe at the French bars, whenever a fight broke out, the bar tender would yell, "Go outside and sort it out!" So frequent were bar-fights that the bar keepers simply yelled "sort it out", which would then imply "Get outside". Just kidding. Nov 10, 2013 at 20:56

It originated from Middle English which in turn came from Old French which in turn originated from Latin. Here's a description of its origin from Google.

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  • 1
    Who down-voted? Why? Nov 10, 2013 at 9:08

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