The Meaning of Rectify: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever been confused by the definition of rectify? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word rectify, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word rectify mean?

According to Merriam-Webster Unabridged English Dictionary and Cambridge Dictionary, the word rectify (pronounced ˈrɛk təˌfaɪ) is a transitive verb that means to remedy or make right. This word is often used to refer to something that needs to be altered in order to make it right or correct again, and is often used in the context of mending a relationship or situation. For example, if someone cheated on their partner and they feel guilty about it, they need to rectify the situation which is presently broken or in disrepair. The word rectify can also be used to mean to purify in the context of alcohol through a process of fractional distillation, but it is more common to what the word rectify used to discuss mending situations.

The word rectify is also present in many different languages to mean to correct or make something right. You may notice that many of these words look and sound similar to the word rectify, or are even cognates for the word rectify. This is because these words have common origins in Lain. Many languages, particularly the romance languages, have their roots in Latin. Therefore, words of Latin origin will often be similar between languages. THis list of translations for the word rectify is provided by Word Sense.

  • Finnish: oikaista‎, korjata‎
  • German: korrigieren‎
  • Swedish: korrigera‎
  • Spanish: rectificar‎
  • Romanian: rectifica‎, corecta‎
  • Maori: whakamaene‎
  • Portuguese: retificar‎
  • Dutch: herzien‎, corrigeren‎, rectificeren‎, rechtzetten‎, amenderen‎, amelioreren‎
  • Russian: исправля́ть‎ (impf), испра́вить‎ (pf)
  • French: rectifier‎
  • Italian: rettificare‎
  • Japanese: 正す‎ (ただす, tadasu)
  • Turkish: düzeltmek‎
  • Chinese – Mandarin: 糾正‎, 纠正‎ (jiūzhèng), 整頓‎, 整顿‎ (zhěngdùn)
  • Irish: ceartaigh‎
  • Polish: poprawiać‎ (impf), poprawić‎ (pf)

What are synonyms and antonyms for the word rectify?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word rectify. These are known as synonyms, which are words and phrases that have the same meaning as another word or phrase. Synonyms are very useful to know if you want to expand your vocabulary or if you want to avoid repeating yourself. This list of synonyms for the word rectify is provided by Thesaurus.

  • revise
  • fix up
  • adjust
  • make good
  • clean up
  • square
  • put right
  • pay one’s dues
  • remedy
  • clean up act
  • go over
  • emend
  • launder
  • pick up
  • straighten out
  • remediate
  • scrub
  • debug
  • repair
  • dial back
  • turn things around
  • straighten up
  • shape up
  • recalibrate
  • reform
  • correct
  • right
  • amend
  • make right
  • mend
  • redress
  • make up for
  • fix
  • improve
  • doctor

There are also many different words that mean the opposite of the word rectify. These are called antonyms. Antonyms are words and phrases that have the opposite definition of another word or phrase and are useful to know if you want to expand your knowledge of the English language. This list of antonyms for the word rectify is also provided by Thesaurus

  • louse up
  • wreck
  • undermine
  • vandalize
  • prejudice
  • do violence to
  • total
  • get
  • maim
  • maltreat
  • blemish
  • ruin
  • wrong
  • abuse
  • muck up
  • discommode
  • molest
  • zing
  • trample
  • ill-treat
  • incommode
  • cripple
  • spoil
  • wrench
  • traumatize
  • wing
  • tweak
  • sap
  • bruise
  • shatter
  • wound
  • hurt
  • stab
  • mess up
  • dump on
  • misuse
  • tarnish
  • mar
  • mutilate
  • damage
  • impair
  • harm
  • inconvenience
  • put down
  • disserve
  • nick
  • vitiate
  • dilapidate
  • crush
  • scathe
  • shock
  • outrage
  • sabotage
  • mangle

How can the word rectify be used in a sentence?

The word rectify can be used in many different sentences and scenarios to describe making something right or remedying something. This is a fairly common word to hear in everyday speech. In this example, Nora feels guilty for ditching her friend Kelly to go on a date. She talks to her mom about it.

Nora: And now Kelly’s so mad at me because we were supposed to go to the moves together, but Ricky asked me to go roller skating with him and she knows I’ve liked Ricky for like three years and now she won’t even talk to me!

Mom: Honey, breathe. I understand. You feel like Kelly should give you a pass because this was a one-time thing, but think about how she feels. If you ditch her once, who’s to say you won’t do it again?

Nora: So you think I was wrong?

Mom: I think you feel guilty, and I think you should try and rectify things with Kelly.

What is the etymology of the word rectify?

According to Etymonline, the word rectify has been used since the year 1400 to mean to make something right or to correct something. This word comes from the Middle English rectifien from the Old French rectifier, which literally meant to make straight. The Old French rectifier has been used since the 14th century. The Old French rectifier comes from the Late Medieval Latin rēctificāre, which meant to make right. This comes from the Latin rectus, meaning straight. This comes from the Proto-Indo-European root reg- meaning to move in a straight line. This is combined with the Latin root facere, meaning to make, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European root dhe-, meaning to set or put. Related words to rectify include the past tense form rectified, the present participle form of the verb rectifying, the noun rectification, and the noun rectifier. 

Overall, the word rectify is a verb that means to correct or make right. This root is Latin in origin, and can literally be interpreted to mean to make something straight. This is a commonly used English word. People can rectify a situation, as well as many other things to correct and make them right once more. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.wordsense.eu/rectify/
  2. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/rectify
  3. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/harm
  4. https://www.etymonline.com/word/rectify
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rectify#:~:text=transitive%20verb,errors%20%3A%20adjust%20rectify%20the%20calendar
  6. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/rectify