shape-up

or shape·up

[ sheyp-uhp ]
/ ˈʃeɪpˌʌp /

noun

an act or instance of shaping up.
a former method of hiring longshoremen in which the applicants appeared daily at the docks and a union hiring boss chose those who would be given work.

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Origin of shape-up

First recorded in 1940–45; noun use of verb phrase shape up
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for shape-up

shape up

verb (intr, adverb)

informal to proceed or develop satisfactorily
informal to develop a definite or proper form

noun shapeup

US and Canadian (formerly) a method of hiring dockers for a day or shift by having a union hiring boss select them from a gathering of applicants
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with shape-up

shape up

1

Turn out, develop; see take shape.

2

Improve so as to meet a standard, as in The coach told the team that they'd better shape up or they'd be at the bottom of the league. This usage was first recorded in 1938.

3

shape up or ship out Behave yourself or be forced to leave, as in The new supervisor told Tom he'd have to shape up or ship out. This expression originated in the 1940s, during World War II, as a threat that if one didn't behave in an appropriate military manner one would be sent overseas to a combat zone. After the war it was transferred to other situations calling for improved performance.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.