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Dictionaries acknowledge that to put (something) in order means: "to clean or tidy something". Also, tidy (up) something means: "to make a place or a collection of things tidy."

Now, I need to know how the following sentences differ in meaning:

1-1- Help me put the house in order before mom and dad get back.
1-2- Help me tidy up the house before mom and dad get back.

And

2-1- Put all these books in order.
2-2- Tidy up all these books.

And finally:

3-1-I'm tired of asking you to tidy your room up.
3-2- I'm tired of asking you to put your room in order.

To me both sentences in each group are interchangeable.

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Although the example usages are similar, there is a difference. The phrase "to put in order" can be more extreme than "to tidy up". For example after a party I might say

Help me tidy up the house before mom and dad get back.

But if the party went wild, with the sofa in the pool and the curtains pulled down, I might say

Help me put the house in order before mom and dad get back.

There is a figurative use of "to put the house in order" too. Suppose someone has taken to gambling, is in debt and has lost his job. I might say

You must put your house in order.

and this has nothing to do with tidying up a home, but making drastic changes to one's lifestyle.

There is also a difference in meaning with the question's second pair of sentences:

Put all these books in order.

They may have been tidy, but not in alphabetical order, which is what I would expect the instruction to mean: to sort into order.

  • Thank you @Weather Vane, but how about the other two? :) – A-friend May 11 at 15:12
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    They are similar, but "put the house in order" could be a more extreme tidying up, for example after a wild party when the sofa is in the garden and all the crockery is in the pool. – Weather Vane May 11 at 15:14
  • But @Weather Vane I guess as in #1&3, depending on the context, also in #2 both sentences (verbs) can convey the same message too. Am I right, or irrespective of the context, the two verbs convey different messages in #2? I wonder if you could explain it too. :) – A-friend May 11 at 16:01
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    @A-friend I have improved this answer. – Weather Vane May 11 at 16:46

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