\ ˈshāp-ˌəp How to pronounce shape-up (audio) \

Definition of shape-up

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a system of hiring workers and especially longshoremen by the day or shift by having applicants gather for each day's selection also : an instance of such hiring practice

shape up

shaped up; shaping up; shapes up

Definition of shape up (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

: to improve to a good or acceptable condition or standard of behavior shaping up at the gym

transitive verb

: to bring to a good or acceptable condition or standard of behavior

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Synonyms for shape-up

Synonyms: Verb

amend, mend, reform, straighten (up or out)

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Examples of shape-up in a Sentence


angrily told his son that if he didn't shape up, he'd be grounded for a month this group of summer interns is shaping up to be one of the best we've ever hired

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The safety-certification process that put the Boeing 737 MAX in the air is coming under congressional scrutiny in what is shaping up as a test of the aircraft maker’s influence in Washington. Siobhan Hughes, WSJ, "Fast-Tracked Aircraft Certification, Pushed by Boeing, Comes Under the Spotlight," 24 Mar. 2019 July’s election is shaping up to be one of Mexico’s most contentious. Juan Pablo Spinetto,, "Mexico Front-Runner Says He’s No Rebel, Backs Orderly Change," 4 Apr. 2018 April is shaping up to be a big month for the Beyhive. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Beyoncé Dropped a Surprise Live Album With Her Homecoming Documentary," 17 Apr. 2019 Here, exactly why Meghan is shaping up to be a green-minded mother. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "6 Reasons Why Meghan Markle Will Be an Eco-Friendly Mom," 15 Apr. 2019 This year's Oscars are shaping up to be a truly unmissable night, between the never-ending drama leading up to the ceremony and the wide open Best Picture field. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "How To Stream the 2019 Oscars Online," 24 Feb. 2019 Next year is shaping up to be packed with notable releases, from the charming world of Animal Crossing to the violent action of Gears of War. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The 40 games we can’t wait to play in 2019," 26 Dec. 2018 Getty Images The 2018 Invictus Games are shaping up to be a real royal hotspot. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Princess Mary Is Joining Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the Invictus Games," 2 Sep. 2018 The competition is shaping up to be especially fierce because the field could include as many as two dozen candidates. Thomas Beaumont, The Seattle Times, "2020 Democratic contenders already eyeing top staff in Iowa," 21 Nov. 2018

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

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First Known Use of shape-up


1940, in the meaning defined above


circa 1920, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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Statistics for shape-up

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Time Traveler for shape-up

The first known use of shape-up was circa 1920

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with shape-up

Comments on shape-up

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


a strong desire or propensity

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