sort-n; 5 Senses

Sense Number 1: a subcategory in a classification scheme

Commentary:SORT[+system][+classification][+subcategory][+characterized] Use this sense if there is a quantifier or determiner preceding 'sort of' Use this sense when the word immediately following 'sort of' is a noun, not a modifier, verb or adverb (Sense 2)

This is the wrong sort of nail to attach shingles with.
How many sorts of chili peppers are there?
He wants to go to China for all sorts of reasons.
A jumper is a sort of dress.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 1

Sense Number 2: an approximate attribute or quality of something

Commentary:SORT[+quality][+attribute][+approximate] Use this sense when the word immediately following 'sort of' is a modifier.adverb,verb not a noun. (Sense 1) Use this sense in constructions of the form 'NP of sorts', which implies an approximate quality.
NOTE: if 'sort' is preceded by a quantifier, it is Sense 1 (e.g., she wore some sort of a magenta dress is a TYPE of dress,)

She wore a sort of magenta dress.
This dessert is sort of creamy and moist.
He is sort of interested in taking flying lessons.
It is sort of time for Bob to start thinking about finishing his degree. ('time' is adverbial here)
It's a compromise of sorts.
They were sort of talking about moving to Vermont.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 2

Sense Number 3: a person identified by a specific nature or characteristic

NOTE: a narrow usage of Sense 1 - but always refers to a person or group or people

Frank is a genuinely friendly sort.
The people who run the government offices are a lazy sort.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 3

Sense Number 4: an operation that groups items according to specific criteria


This algorithm describes a simple bubble sort.
My computer can perform these sorts in a matter of seconds.
The machine's sort of coffee beans by size is still not quite accurate enough.

WordNet 3.0 Sense Numbers: 4

Sense Number 5: a character or component of a typesetting font


These sorts are Helvetica not Ariel.

WordNet 0.0 Sense Numbers: 4