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.

Origin of shape-up

First recorded in 1940–45; noun use of verb phrase shape up

Definition for shape up (2 of 2)

Origin of shape

before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English gesceapu (plural); replacing dial. shap, Middle English; Old English gesceap (singular); cognate with Old Norse skap state, mood; (v.) Middle English; Old English sceapen (past participle); replacing Middle English sheppe, shippe, Old English sceppan, scyppan; cognate with German schaffen, Old Norse skepja, Gothic -skapjan to make
SYNONYMS FOR shape
4 specter, illusion.
7 order, pattern.
8 order, situation.
14 mold, model.
Related forms
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for shape up (1 of 3)

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

British Dictionary definitions for shape up (2 of 3)

shape

/ (ʃeɪp) /

noun

verb

Derived Formsshapable or shapeable, adjectiveshaper, noun

Word Origin for shape

Old English gesceap, literally: that which is created, from scieppan to create; related to sceap sexual organs, Old Norse skap destiny, Old High German scaf form

British Dictionary definitions for shape up (3 of 3)

SHAPE

/ (ʃeɪp) /

n acronym for

Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
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 (1 of 2)

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.

Idioms and Phrases with shape up (2 of 2)

shape


In addition to the idiom beginning with shape

  • shape up

also see:

  • bent out of shape
  • in condition (shape)
  • lick into shape
  • take shape
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.