I'm an American and I refer to a situation which is settled as "sorted out." My English family would just say that it's "sorted". Which is the earlier expression? Did Americans add the preposition or did the English drop it?

2 Answers 2


Sorted has a few specific meanings in British English that are extrapolations from the usual meaning of 'sort out', ie to put things in order. They are slang expressions and 'sort out' would still be preferable in formal or written English, although not for all the slang meanings below.

The slang meanings of 'sorted' are described by the Oxford Living Dictionaries:

sorted (adjective, British informal)

  • organized, arranged, or dealt with satisfactorily. 'And your social commitments?' 'They’re well sorted' | he's working on that old car he's been trying to get sorted

  • (of a person) confident, organized, and emotionally well balanced. after a while, you realize they're not as sorted as they seem | a pretty sorted kind of bloke

  • (of a person) prepared for or provided with something (especially illegal drugs)

@Henry mentioned the more menacing usage above, described by Oxford Living Dictionaries:

sort someone out (informal) Deal with a troublesome person, typically by reprimanding or punishing them: 'if he can't pay you, I'll sort him out'

  • 3
    The question is "Which is the earlier expression?"
    – apaderno
    Feb 26, 2011 at 12:46
  • I said that the slang meanings are extrapolations from the usual meaning of sort out.
    – gpr
    Feb 27, 2011 at 1:50
  • @Mari-LouA - thanks for pointing out. The last editor changed the sources.
    – gpr
    Jan 16, 2018 at 23:31
  • 1
    As a BrE speaker who grew up in the 1950s & 60s I have known 'sorted out' all my life but only heard 'sorted' from the 1980s onward, and then as part of youth culture with some drug connotations. It may have been around earlier in London or Merseyside but as an uncool provincial it was new to me. I believe that 'sorted out' is still more common in the UK particularly in serious conversation as in 'I'll sort out your hotel reservation', 'Tony will sort out your computer' or even 'If you're not careful son someone's going to come and sort you out!', the last of which could be a serious threat.
    – BoldBen
    Jan 17, 2018 at 0:09

Well, when I've spent time in England I frequently heard the term "sort you out" as meaning "get you what you need."

Person 1: "I need two tickets to the Man-United / Liverpool match tonight."

Person 2: "Well, just see me mate Archie then. He'll sort you out."

  • 1
    In this sense it is more "deal with the problem", either in your positive sense, or more negatively in something like "If he's been bothering her, I'll sort him out" which would probably involve (threats of) violence.
    – Henry
    Feb 26, 2011 at 3:05

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