sort of

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From a reanalysis of "sort of" in a phrase such as "a sort of merry dance" from noun ("sort") and preposition ("of") from the prepositional phrase "of merry dance" to adverb modifying "merry".

Adverb[edit]

sort of (not comparable)

  1. (idiomatic, colloquial)  Approximately; in a way; partially; not quite; somewhat.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 19, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      Nothing was too small to receive attention, if a supervising eye could suggest improvements likely to conduce to the common welfare. Mr. Gordon Burnage, for instance, personally visited dust-bins and back premises, accompanied by a sort of village bailiff, going his round like a commanding officer doing billets.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, “Foreword”, in The China Governess[1]:
      ‘I understand that the district was considered a sort of sanctuary,’ the Chief was saying. ‘An Alsatia like the ancient one behind the Strand, or the Saffron Hill before the First World War. […]’
    It sort of makes sense the way he explains it, but I still don't really understand.

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