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[sheyp] /ʃeɪp/
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.
verb (used with object), shaped, shaping.
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.
verb (used without object), shaped, shaping.
to come to a desired conclusion or take place in a specified way:
If discussions shape properly, the companies will merge.
Verb phrases
shape up,
  1. to assume a specific form:
    The plan is beginning to shape up.
  2. to evolve or develop, especially favorably.
  3. to improve one's behavior or performance to meet a required standard.
  4. to get oneself into good physical condition.
  5. (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.
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
Related forms
shapable, shapeable, adjective
outshape, verb (used with object), outshaped, outshaping.
preshape, noun, verb (used with object), preshaped, preshaping.
transshape, verb (used with object), transshaped, transshaping.
unshapable, adjective
unshapeable, adjective
unshaping, adjective
1. silhouette, appearance. See form. 4. specter, illusion. 7. order, pattern. 8. order, situation. 14. mold, model.


[sheyp] /ʃeɪp/
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe.
Also, Shape. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for shapes
  • My aesthetic has a minimalist core and the shapes and colors are influenced by the natural world and all its wonders.
  • The blocks are faced with faux stone, which comes in a wide variety of colors and shapes and is fairly easy to install.
  • But one theory is that they used maquettes, or small models, made to cast shadows in abstract shapes.
  • But the suggestive shapes usually turn out to be whitecaps or a cloud's shadow.
  • With a few spare shapes, he conveys an instantly recognizable image.
  • They had odd shapes and their packaging was crudely printed.
  • Poor lighting reduced the images of the other members arrayed around the room to obscure shapes.
  • Another had people sort cards of various shapes while counting aloud by threes.
  • Little discussion is about how tenure protects research and how tenure shapes research agendas.
  • shapes emerge from the chaos, and the shapes begin to sing.
British Dictionary definitions for shapes


the outward form of an object defined by outline
the figure or outline of the body of a person
a phantom
organized or definite form my plans are taking shape
the form that anything assumes; guise
something used to provide or define form; pattern; mould
condition or state of efficiency to be in good shape
out of shape
  1. in bad physical condition
  2. 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
(transitive) to mould into a particular pattern or form; modify
(transitive) to plan, devise, or prepare to shape a plan of action
an obsolete word for appoint
Derived Forms
shapable, shapeable, adjective
shaper, noun
Word Origin
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


noun acronym
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
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Word Origin and History for shapes
O.E. scapan, pp. of scieppan "to create, form, destine," from P.Gmc. *skapjanan "create, ordain" (cf. O.N. skapa, Dan. skabe, O.Fris. skeppa, O.H.G. scaffan, Ger. schaffen), from PIE base *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape, to hack" (see shave), which acquired broad technical senses and in Gmc. a specific sense of "to create." O.E. scieppan survived into M.E. as shippen, but shape emerged as a regular verb (with pt. shaped) by 1500s. The old past participle form shapen survives in misshapen. Phrase Shape up (v.) is 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."
O.E. gesceap "creation, form, destiny," from root of shape (v.)). Meaning "contours of the body" is attested from c.1393. Meaning "condition, state" is first recorded 1865, Amer.Eng. In M.E., the word also had a sense of "a woman's private parts." Shapely "well-formed" is recorded from 1382.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for shapes



Condition; state of fitness: I have to find out what shape they're in (1865+)

Related Terms

bent out of shape

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Related Abbreviations for shapes


Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers, Europe
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with shapes
In addition to the idiom beginning with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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