rec·​ti·​fy ˈrek-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce rectify (audio)
rectified; rectifying

transitive verb

: to set right : remedy
: to purify especially by repeated or fractional distillation
rectified alcohol
: to correct by removing errors : adjust
rectify the calendar
: to make (an alternating current) unidirectional
rectification noun

Did you know?

Don’t worry if you struggle with the word rectify—we’re here to set you straight. When you rectify something, you correct an error or make things right, which is fitting because rectify and correct both ultimately trace back to the Latin word regere, which can mean “to lead straight,” “to direct,” or “to rule.” Rectify has had its “to set right” meaning since the early 16th century, but the word has over the years accrued various other meanings as well, including the specialized uses “to purify especially by repeated or fractional distillation” (as in “rectified alcohol”), “to make (an alternating current) unidirectional,” and several medical applications having to do with healing of one kind or another. Regere plays a part in the histories of a number of familiar English words, in addition to those mentioned above; the many relatives of rectify include direct, resurrection, and regimen.

Choose the Right Synonym for rectify

correct, rectify, emend, remedy, redress, amend, reform, revise mean to make right what is wrong.

correct implies taking action to remove errors, faults, deviations, defects.

correct your spelling

rectify implies a more essential changing to make something right, just, or properly controlled or directed.

rectify a misguided policy

emend specifically implies correction of a text or manuscript.

emend a text

remedy implies removing or making harmless a cause of trouble, harm, or evil.

set out to remedy the evils of the world

redress implies making compensation or reparation for an unfairness, injustice, or imbalance.

redress past social injustices

amend, reform, revise imply an improving by making corrective changes, amend usually suggesting slight changes

amend a law

, reform implying drastic change

plans to reform the court system

, and revise suggesting a careful examination of something and the making of necessary changes.

revise the schedule

Examples of rectify in a Sentence

The hotel management promised to rectify the problem. let me get the store manager, and he'll rectify the invoice for your order
Recent Examples on the Web The American Music Fairness Act aims to rectify that, Travis’ testimony stated. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 26 June 2024 Since the repeal, the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments have taken steps to rectify the military’s discriminatory past. Anne Marshall-Chalmers, USA TODAY, 25 June 2024 Zohar Goshen, a Columbia Law School professor who specializes in corporate law issues, said launching a redo of the approval process for Musk’s pay is a proper way to rectify the flaws McCormick identified while still keeping the billionaire tied to Tesla. Eva Roytburg, Fortune, 10 June 2024 SpaceX may also make changes to the Starship heat shield to rectify the loss of tiles encountered on Flight 4. Stephen Clark, Ars Technica, 6 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for rectify 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'rectify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English rectifien, from Anglo-French rectifier, from Medieval Latin rectificare, from Latin rectus right — more at right

First Known Use

circa 1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of rectify was circa 1529


Dictionary Entries Near rectify

Cite this Entry

“Rectify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


rec·​ti·​fy ˈrek-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce rectify (audio)
rectified; rectifying
: to set or make right
rectification noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
rec·​ti·​fy ˈrek-tə-ˌfī How to pronounce rectify (audio)
rectified; rectifying
: to purify (as alcohol) especially by repeated or fractional distillation
: to make (an alternating current) unidirectional

More from Merriam-Webster on rectify

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