\ˈshāp-ˌəp \

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


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

Although coal production in the US increased slightly in 2017 after years of punishing loses, 2018 is shaping up to show more declines according to the Energy Department's most recent Quarterly Coal Report. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Australia doesn’t care to break its coal habit in the face of climate change," 11 Oct. 2018 Nevada is trending blue overall and this is shaping up to be a bad year for Republicans in general, but specifically for those in states with substantial suburban and Hispanic populations, of which Nevada has plenty of both. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Fox News Power Rankings: Dean Heller, survivalist," 19 Sep. 2018 Warner Brothers/Disney Another year, another set of new releases to look forward to, and 2018 is shaping up to be one of the best movie years on record. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "38 Movies Coming Out in 2018 That Are So Good You'll Actually Pay $$ to See Them," 17 May 2018 Pickings are slim at the position, however, and Ejiofor could shape up to be a serviceable part of a defensive line rotation. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "10 best players available on NFL draft Day 3: Shaquem Griffin among top options," 28 Apr. 2018 Either way, Saturday’s party is shaping up to be incredibly cursed. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "The Winklevoss Twins Are Reportedly Helping Host Cuomo’s Hamptons Fundraiser," 12 July 2018 The production of documents could slow down a confirmation hearing that has already shaped up as a sharp partisan battle. Katie Benner, New York Times, "Rosenstein Asks Prosecutors to Help With Kavanaugh Papers in Unusual Request," 11 July 2018 The American president is slated to touch down in the UK on Thursday (July 12) for a four-day visit that is shaping up to be a magnet for anti-Trump protesters. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Green Day's 'American Idiot' Re-Enters British Charts Before Trump Visit," 10 July 2018 Undecided voters at this point are largely Democrats who are waiting to see how the race between the two Democrats shapes up, said Bob Shrum, a former Democratic operative who is the director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. Sarah D. Wire,, "New poll confirms Feinstein has big lead in Senate race, but nearly half of voters are undecided," 20 June 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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Time Traveler for shape-up

The first known use of shape-up was circa 1920

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


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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