shape

verb
\ ˈshāp How to pronounce shape (audio) \
shaped; shaping

Definition of shape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : form, create especially : to give a particular form or shape to
2 obsolete : ordain, decree
3 : to adapt in shape so as to fit neatly and closely a dress shaped to her figure
4a : devise, plan shape a policy
b : to embody in definite form shaping a folktale into an epic
5a : to make fit for (a particular use, purpose, etc.) : adapt shape the questions to fit the answers
b : to determine or direct the course or character of events that shaped history
c : to modify (behavior) by rewarding changes that tend toward a desired response

intransitive verb

1 : to come to pass : happen it's shaping up that I am known now for my husbands— Leslie Marmon Silko
2 : to take on or approach a mature or definite form often used with up the summer is shaping up to be one of the hottest on record

shape

noun
plural shapes

Definition of shape (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the visible makeup characteristic of a particular item or kind of item a cake in the shape of a Christmas tree
b(1) : spatial form or contour the clouds kept changing shape
(2) : a standard or universally recognized spatial form a stain in the shape of a perfect circle
2 : the appearance of the body as distinguished from that of the face : figure
3a : phantom, apparition eerie shapes floating in the mist
b : assumed appearance : guise a trick-or-treater in the shape of a pumpkin
4 : form of embodiment The plan is starting to come into shape. — see also take shape
5 : a mode of existence or form of being having identifying features
6 : a molded dessert especially : blancmange
7 : the condition in which someone or something exists at a particular time the car was in fine shape
in shape
: in an original, normal, or fit condition exercises to keep in shape

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from shape

Verb

shaper noun

Noun

shaped \ ˌshāpt How to pronounce shape (audio) \ adjective

Examples of shape in a Sentence

Verb The artist shaped the stone with a hammer and chisel. Schools shape the minds of future leaders. Ads help shape public opinion. Noun circles, squares, triangles, and other geometric shapes The cake has a rectangular shape. The pieces came in many different sizes and shapes. The pieces were sorted by size and shape. The cloud kept changing shape. The cake was rectangular in shape. I need to start exercising and get back in shape. I'm out of shape because I haven't been exercising. The players were in poor condition, but the coach quickly whipped them into shape. She stays in shape by exercising daily and eating well.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Your Google searches helped shape a hot new Mustang Mach-E campaign. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Ford ditches boring tutorials with new Mustang Mach-E videos," 11 Feb. 2021 So that approach helped shape what the visual aspects of the storytelling would be. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Freida Lee Mock Captured the "Extraordinary" Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a Documentary," 11 Feb. 2021 The organization also is highlighting influential Black chefs, activists and others on the Black Restaurant Week San Antonio Facebook page by posting biographies and photos detailing how each has helped shape Black history and food culture. Paul Stephen, San Antonio Express-News, "Black Restaurant Week San Antonio list of participating Black-owned restaurants, vendors, events released," 8 Feb. 2021 In the midst of Black History Month, as the nation celebrates the leaders who helped shape the country, broadcast legend Carole Simpson is opening up about breaking barriers in the broadcast industry. Mariya Moseley, ABC News, "Broadcast legend Carole Simpson reflects on shaping history," 8 Feb. 2021 He's tried banning landmines, hence his friendship with fellow landmine opponent Bono, and helped shape legislation on gun control, privacy rights, government surveillance and patents. Alan Fram, ajc, "At 80, Vermont's Sen. Leahy ready to run impeachment trial," 27 Jan. 2021 Congratulations to John Sobolewski, executive director of the Powers of More Chambers of Commerce, for being recognized as one of Cleveland Magazine’s Cleveland 500 leaders and visionaries who have helped to shape Cleveland. Carol Kovach, cleveland, "Script Parma Picture of the Month Contest continues in the new year: Sun Postings," 26 Jan. 2021 Kane, the prismatic biography of a press lord transparently based on William Randolph Hearst, which has come to be popularly regarded as the greatest of Hollywood movies, is only one way in which Mankiewicz helped to shape American media. J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books, "Revenge of the Has-Been," 5 Jan. 2021 Quinn’s influence helped shape certain aspects of Shanahan as a head coach. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "If Robert Saleh leaves 49ers, who might be the next defensive coordinator?," 28 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun For showing off the flowers outdoors, Ferris recommends adding spray paint sealer, or making them with laminated papers, which would still bend into shape. Karen Taylor, NOLA.com, "Are you as crafty as a third grader? Try your hand at making these Carnival flowers," 8 Feb. 2021 Nurkic has been working his way back into shape after missing part of training camp. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic suffers another setback with broken wrist: ‘It’s always something’," 15 Jan. 2021 When protesters would not leave, more police arrived with zip ties and began pulling them into the shape of handcuffs. Nicholas Rowan, Washington Examiner, "Black Lives Matter protesters clash with police over Capitol Hill fence," 13 Jan. 2021 What the Wings can learn: Demers whipped the Wings into shape, but he was also helped by a return to form from 21-year-old Yzerman — whom Demers named captain in October 1986. Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press, "Here's what the Detroit Red Wings can learn from four decades of NHL's worst teams," 5 Jan. 2021 But Green is still getting into shape after more than 300 days away from NBA games, and he was limited to 18 minutes against the Trail Blazers. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Porous 3-point defense dooms Warriors in blowout loss to Trail Blazers," 2 Jan. 2021 Arrange guacamole into shape of a wreath and garnish with pomegranate seeds, goat cheese and fresh rosemary sprigs. Dallas News, "In good times, guacamole! In troubled times, more guac!," 29 Dec. 2020 The Cavs spent most of training camp trying to get back into game shape. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers prepared for anything early in NBA season, including ‘sloppy basketball’," 24 Dec. 2020 Squeeze the excess water out of them, smooth the bristles into shape, and lay them out flat to dry. Jennifer Blair, chicagotribune.com, "The best kids’ paint brush set," 22 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shape.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of shape

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shape

Verb

Middle English, from Old English sceapen, gescapen, past participle of scieppan; akin to Old High German skepfen to shape

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about shape

Time Traveler for shape

Time Traveler

The first known use of shape was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for shape

Last Updated

21 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shape.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shape. Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for shape

shape

verb

English Language Learners Definition of shape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to give a particular form or shape to (something) : to work with (a material) in order to make something from it
: to influence the development of (something) : to help (something) become what it is
: to make (something, such as a plan) by a process of careful thought

shape

noun

English Language Learners Definition of shape (Entry 2 of 2)

: the form or outline of an object
: the condition of something or someone
: a physically strong and healthy condition

shape

verb
\ ˈshāp How to pronounce shape (audio) \
shaped; shaping

Kids Definition of shape

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to give a certain form or shape to Shape the dough into loaves.
2 : to plan out : devise We shaped a winning strategy.
3 : to have great influence on the development of Teachers help shape the minds of future leaders.
shape up
1 : to develop in a particular way This is shaping up to be an exciting trip.
2 : to improve in behavior or condition

Other Words from shape

shaper noun

shape

noun

Kids Definition of shape (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : outward appearance : the form or outline of something the shape of a pear circles, squares, and other shapes
2 : definite arrangement and form The plan is finally taking shape.
3 : condition entry 1 sense 1 The car is in poor shape.
4 : a physically fit condition She keeps in shape by exercising.

Other Words from shape

shaped \ ˌshāpt \ adjective a heart-shaped cookie
\ ˈshāp How to pronounce shape (audio) \
shaped; shaping

Medical Definition of shape

: to modify (behavior) by rewarding changes that tend toward a desired response

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on shape

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shape

Nglish: Translation of shape for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shape for Arabic Speakers

Comments on shape

What made you want to look up shape? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!