\ 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

But saving elephants is shaping up to be the fight of Wasser’s life. Sandi Doughton, The Seattle Times, "Sam Wasser pours his intense passion for protecting wildlife into research and catching poachers," 21 May 2019 But its findings about the incident—in which seven workers suffered severe burns—are shaping up differently under President Trump than under President Obama, according to people familiar with the agency under both administrations. Heidi Vogt, WSJ, "Chemical-Safety Board Is Cutting Back Under Trump," 11 Oct. 2018 But as his second courtroom showdown against accuser Andrea Constand opens April 9, the retrial is shaping up to be no simple repeat. Jeremy Roebuck,, "Bill Cosby's retrial: Everything you need to know," 6 Apr. 2018 But Northern Pass is shaping up to be a political headache for Baker. Jon Chesto,, "New Hampshire takes another pass on Northern Pass," 13 Mar. 2018 But, for now, Osili's budding candidacy is shaping up to achieve something that has seemed unthinkable so far this year: giving Democrats and Republicans a common vision for what council leadership should look like. James Briggs, Indianapolis Star, "As Stephen Clay loses support, a new frontrunner for City-County Council president emerges," 2 Feb. 2018 But next season is suddenly shaping up to be more interesting for the Giants than expected. Ann Killion, San Francisco Chronicle, "Adding Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria shows Giants are playing for now," 15 Jan. 2018 The season is shaping up to be severe, but so far is not setting any records, Jernigan said. Maggie Fox, NBC News, "Flu season is hitting its peak, CDC says," 12 Jan. 2018 The 2019 Billboard Music Awards are already shaping up to be crazy night. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "How To Stream The 2019 Billboard Music Awards Online For Free," 26 Apr. 2019

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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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

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