[ sheyp ]
See synonyms for shape on
  1. the quality of a distinct object or body in having an external surface or outline of specific form or figure.

  2. this quality as found in some individual object or body form: This lake has a peculiar shape.

  1. something seen in outline, as in silhouette: A vague shape appeared through the mist.

  2. an imaginary form; phantom.

  3. an assumed appearance; guise: an angel in the shape of a woman.

  4. a particular or definite organized form or expression: He could give no shape to his ideas.

  5. proper form; orderly arrangement.

  6. condition or state of repair: The old house was in bad shape. He was sick last year, but is in good shape now.

  7. the collective conditions forming a way of life or mode of existence: What will the shape of the future be?

  8. 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.

  9. something used to give form, as a mold or a pattern.

  10. Also called section. Building Trades, Metalworking. a flanged metal beam or bar of uniform section, as a channel iron, I-beam, etc.

  11. 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.

verb (used with object),shaped, shap·ing.
  1. to give definite form, shape, organization, or character to; fashion or form.

  2. to couch or express in words: to shape a statement.

  1. to adjust; adapt: He shaped everything to suit his taste.

  2. to direct (one's course, future, etc.).

  3. to file the teeth of (a saw) to uniform width after jointing.

  4. 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.

  5. Obsolete. to appoint; decree.

verb (used without object),shaped, shap·ing.
  1. to come to a desired conclusion or take place in a specified way: If discussions shape properly, the companies will merge.

Verb Phrases
  1. 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.

Idioms about shape

  1. take shape, to assume a fixed form; become definite: The house is beginning to take shape.

Origin of shape

First recorded before 900; (noun) Middle English; Old English gesceapu (plural); replacing dialectal shap, Middle English; Old English gesceap (singular); cognate with Old Norse skap “state, mood”; (verb) 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”

synonym study For shape

1. See form.

Other words for shape

Other words from shape

  • shap·a·ble, shape·a·ble, adjective
  • outshape, verb (used with object), out·shaped, out·shap·ing.
  • pre·shape, noun, verb (used with object), pre·shaped, pre·shap·ing.
  • trans·shape, verb (used with object), trans·shaped, trans·shap·ing.
  • un·shap·a·ble, adjective
  • un·shape·a·ble, adjective
  • un·shap·ing, adjective

Other definitions for SHAPE (2 of 2)


or Shape

[ sheyp ]

  1. Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use shape in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shape (1 of 2)


/ (ʃeɪp) /

  1. the outward form of an object defined by outline

  2. the figure or outline of the body of a person

  1. a phantom

  2. organized or definite form: my plans are taking shape

  3. the form that anything assumes; guise

  4. something used to provide or define form; pattern; mould

  5. condition or state of efficiency: to be in good shape

  6. out of shape

    • in bad physical condition

    • bent, twisted, or deformed

  7. take shape to assume a definite form

  1. (when intr, often foll by into or up) to receive or cause to receive shape or form

  2. (tr) to mould into a particular pattern or form; modify

  1. (tr) to plan, devise, or prepare: to shape a plan of action

  2. an obsolete word for appoint

Origin of 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

Derived forms of shape

  • shapable or shapeable, adjective
  • shaper, noun

British Dictionary definitions for SHAPE (2 of 2)


/ (ʃeɪp) /

n acronym for
  1. 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with 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.