- 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.
Origin of shape-up
- the quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure.
- this quality as found in some individual object or body form: This lake has a peculiar shape.
- something seen in outline, as in silhouette: A vague shape appeared through the mist.
- an imaginary form; phantom.
- an assumed appearance; guise: an angel in the shape of a woman.
- a particular or definite organized form or expression: He could give no shape to his ideas.
- proper form; orderly arrangement.
- condition or state of repair: The old house was in bad shape. He was sick last year, but is in good shape now.
- the collective conditions forming a way of life or mode of existence: What will the shape of the future be?
- the figure, physique, or body of a person, especially of a woman: A dancer can keep her shape longer than those of us who have sedentary jobs.
- something used to give form, as a mold or a pattern.
- Also called section. Building Trades, Metalworking. a flanged metal beam or bar of uniform section, as a channel iron, I-beam, etc.
- Nautical. a ball, cone, drum, etc., used as a day signal, singly or in combinations, to designate a vessel at anchor or engaged in some particular operation.
- to give definite form, shape, organization, or character to; fashion or form.
- to couch or express in words: to shape a statement.
- to adjust; adapt: He shaped everything to suit his taste.
- to direct (one's course, future, etc.).
- to file the teeth of (a saw) to uniform width after jointing.
- Animal Behavior, Psychology. to teach (a desired behavior) to a human or other animal by successively rewarding the actions that more and more closely approximate that behavior.
- Obsolete. to appoint; decree.
- to come to a desired conclusion or take place in a specified way: If discussions shape properly, the companies will merge.
- shape up,
- to assume a specific form: The plan is beginning to shape up.
- to evolve or develop, especially favorably.
- to improve one's behavior or performance to meet a required standard.
- to get oneself into good physical condition.
- (of longshoremen) to get into a line or formation in order to be assigned the day's work.
- take shape, to assume a fixed form; become definite: The house is beginning to take shape.
Origin of shape
SynonymsSee more synonyms for shape on Thesaurus.com
- informal to proceed or develop satisfactorily
- informal to develop a definite or proper form
- 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
- the outward form of an object defined by outline
- the figure or outline of the body of a person
- a phantom
- organized or definite formmy plans are taking shape
- the form that anything assumes; guise
- something used to provide or define form; pattern; mould
- condition or state of efficiencyto be in good shape
- out of shape
- in bad physical condition
- bent, twisted, or deformed
- take shape to assume a definite form
- (when intr, often foll by into or up) to receive or cause to receive shape or form
- (tr) to mould into a particular pattern or form; modify
- (tr) to plan, devise, or prepareto shape a plan of action
- an obsolete word for appoint
- Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
Word Origin and History for shape up
Old English scapan, past participle of scieppan "to create, form, destine" (past tense scop), from Proto-Germanic *skapjanan "create, ordain" (cf. Old Norse skapa, Danish skabe, Old Saxon scapan, Old Frisian skeppa, Middle Dutch schappen "do, treat," Old High German scaffan, German schaffen "shape, create, produce"), from PIE root *(s)kep- a base forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack" (see scabies), which acquired broad technical senses and in Germanic a specific sense of "to create."
Old English scieppan survived into Middle English as shippen, but shape emerged as a regular verb (with past tense shaped) by 1500s. The old past participle form shapen survives in misshapen. Middle English shepster (late 14c.) "dressmaker, female cutter-out," is literally "shape-ster," from Old English scieppan.
Meaning "to form in the mind" is from late 14c. Phrase Shape up (v.) is literally "to give form to by stiff or solid material;" attested from 1865 as "progress;" from 1938 as "reform;" shape up or ship out is attested from 1956, originally U.S. military slang, with the sense being "do right or get shipped up to active duty."
Old English sceap, gesceap "form; created being, creature; creation; condition; sex, genitalia," from root of shape (v.)). Meaning "contours of the body" is attested from late 14c. Meaning "condition, state" is first recorded 1865, American English. In Middle English, the word in plural also had a sense of "a woman's private parts." Shape-shifter attested from 1820. Out of shape "not in proper shape" is from 1690s. Shapesmith "one who undertakes to improve the form of the body" was used in 1715.
Idioms and Phrases with shape up
Turn out, develop; see take shape.
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.
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.
In addition to the idiom beginning with shape
- shape up
- bent out of shape
- in condition (shape)
- lick into shape
- take shape