shape / shāp/ • n. 1. the external form or appearance characteristic of someone or something; the outline of an area or figure: she liked the shape of his nose | houseplants come in all shapes and sizes | chest freezers are square or rectangular in shape. ∎ a person or thing that is difficult to see and identify clearly: he saw a shape through the mist. ∎ a specific form or guise assumed by someone or something: a fiend in human shape. ∎ a piece of material, paper, etc., made or cut in a particular form: stick paper shapes on for the puppet's eyes and nose. 2. the particular condition or state of someone or something: he was in no shape to drive the building was in poor shape. ∎ the distinctive nature or qualities of something: the future shape and direction of the country. ∎ definite or orderly arrangement: check that your structure will give shape to your essay.• v. [tr.] (often be shaped) give a particular shape or form to: most caves are shaped by the flow of water through limestone shape the dough into two-inch balls. ∎ make (something) fit the form of something else: [tr.] suits have been shaped to fit so snugly that no curve is undefined. ∎ determine the nature of; have a great influence on: his childhood was shaped by a loving relationship with his elder brother. ∎ [intr.] develop in a particular way; progress: the yacht was shaping well in trials. ∎ form or produce (a sound or words).PHRASES: get into shape (or get someone into shape) become (or make someone) physically fitter by exercise: if you're thinking of getting into shape, take it easy and build up slowly.in any (way,) shape or form in any manner or under any circumstances (used for emphasis): 96 percent of the electorate voted against Europeanization in any shape or form.in (good) shape in good physical condition.in the shape of represented or embodied by: retribution arrived in the shape of my irate father.whip (or knock or lick) someone/something into shape act forcefully to bring someone or something into a fitter, more efficient, or better organized state: a man who whips a chamber orchestra into shape.out of shape1. (of an object) not having its usual or original shape, esp. after being bent or knocked: check that the pipe end and compression nut are not bent out of shape. 2. (of a person) in poor physical condition; unfit.the shape of things to come the way the future is likely to develop.shape up or ship out inf. used as an ultimatum to someone to improve their performance or behavior or face being made to leave.take shape assume a distinct form; develop into something definite or tangible: the past few months have seen the state's health insurance legislation begin to take shape.PHRASAL VERBS: shape up develop or happen in a particular way: it was shaping up to be another bleak year. ∎ inf. improve performance or behavior: we have never been afraid to tell our children to shape up ∎ become physically fit: I need to shape up.DERIVATIVES: shap·a·ble (also shape·a·ble) adj.shaped adj. [usu. in comb.] egg-shaped X-shaped. shap·er n.
So shape vb. †create; fashion, form. Early ME. new formation on the pp., repl. orig. OE. *sċ(i)eppan, corr. to OS. *giskeppian, Goth. gaskapjan; f. Gmc. *skap- create, fashion; first established as a wk. vb. XVI; the OE. pp. survives chiefly in misshapen. shapeless XIII. shapely †fit, suitable; well-shaped. XIV (see -LY1).