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

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 our plans are taking 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 shaped (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

Investment flows and wages would be affected more in some sectors and geographic regions relative to others; would the complex bargaining process shaping legislation simply ignore them? Benjamin Zycher, National Review, "The Confusions of the ‘Conservative’ Carbon Tax," 8 July 2019 But the museum — with its moon base-shaped top visible from Interstate 75 — will be the centerpiece for activities around the anniversary, including a NASA livestream broadcast on July 19. Washington Post, "Hometown of first on moon ready to launch 50th celebration," 6 July 2019 The largely online doctoral course — costing approximately $22,000, excluding books, materials and fees — is targeting folks already involved in higher ed with hopes of shaping the next university dean, president and beyond. Elizabeth Hernandez, The Denver Post, "Want to be a college dean or president? CU Denver training diverse, mid-level professionals to ascend higher-ed’s ranks," 6 July 2019 While winter pruning is for shaping fruit trees, summer pruning keeps trees at a size where the fruit is easy to reach. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "34 things to do in the garden in July," 3 July 2019 Yet companies — and corporations — for better and for worse, shape our culture. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Like it or not, Nike's 'Betsy Ross' controversy shows politics in sports here to stay," 3 July 2019 And according to a 2018 report from ProPublica, Perlmutter is now secretly shaping the Trump administration’s VA policies. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Spider-Man: Far From Home turns a class-conscious hero into a tech bro," 3 July 2019 Aitken Basin would also help us understand how extremely large basins shape the surfaces and interiors of planetary bodies. Erica Jawin, Scientific American, "Apollo’s Bounty: The Science of the Moon Rocks," 2 July 2019 For around three million years, hominins had been shaping various cutting, pounding, and scraping tools out of stone, but something was still missing. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "Neanderthals glued their tools together," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The series portrays the Russians as interchangeable, one-dimensional villains who are even less developed than the shape-shifting Mind Flayer monster. Meredith Blake, chicagotribune.com, "Why ‘Stranger Things 3’ is an anxious ode to ’80s consumerism," 9 July 2019 Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times covers the Clippers and joined me on the radio show on Monday to talk about the shape-shifting arrival of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. John Canzano, oregonlive.com, "Kawhi Leonard signing helps Clippers shed second-rate image," 8 July 2019 The series portrays the Russians as interchangeable, one-dimensional villains who are even less developed than the shape-shifting Mind Flayer monster. Meredith Blake, latimes.com, "‘Stranger Things 3’ is an anxious ode to ’80s consumerism," 8 July 2019 But the two characters transform from themselves into Skrulls, the shape-shifting alien species from Captain Marvel. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Breaking Down the Spider-Man: Far From Home Post-Credits Scenes," 2 July 2019 The New York Times Hugh Jackman is a shape-shifting master of showbiz: as the big-screen Wolverine, ripped and brooding; as a charismatic song-and-dance man, ripped and Broadway. New York Times, "Review: Hugh Jackman Isn’t Quite the Greatest Showman in an Arena," 30 June 2019 The uncanny little boy; the charismatic, slightly mournful young man; the shape-shifting child-man-woman-cyborg-extraterrestrial. Margo Jefferson, Harper's magazine, "Lost Boy," 24 June 2019 The 14 songs’ abrasive, shape-shifting instrumentals draw from Ali’s roots in gospel, punk, vogue, Baltimore club and the avant garde. Sameer Rao, baltimoresun.com, "Mining Baltimore's past and present, Abdu Ali releases album of "Fiyah!!!"," 13 June 2019 In the fourth iteration of the Men in Black franchise, Hemsworth and Thompson, both 35, star as Agent H and Agent M, who have to fight against shape-shifting aliens that threaten the Earth. Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Bill Nye Believes in Aliens, Declares They 'Gotta Be Out There' at Men in Black Premiere," 12 June 2019

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

Statistics for shape

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shape

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

See more words from the same century

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shape

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shape

Spanish Central: Translation of 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

to complain fretfully

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!