\ 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

How will the Eastern Conference shape up next year, especially with KD and Klay missing in action? Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bucks Podcast: These are the questions to ponder as the Bucks head into the draft and free agency," 17 June 2019 The 2019 Met Gala is already shaping up to be one of the most iconically over-the-top events in fashion history. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Lizzo Debuted Monochromatic Pink Makeup and a Matching Wig at the 2019 Met Gala," 7 May 2019 The other benefit: Booker will be the Suns’ best recruiter in what’s shaping up to be a crazy 2019 free agency period. Scott Bordow, azcentral, "Suns, Devin Booker both benefit from five-year, $158 million deal," 8 July 2018 The national Democrats’ hyper-focus on their top-two primary problems has meant less attention paid to promoting female candidates in what’s shaping up to be a banner year for women in politics. Christine Mai-duc,, "Today is crucial for Democrats in California's House races," 5 June 2018 His congressional district is so sufficiently red that despite his Democratic challenger’s multiple appearances on MSNBC, his seat should be safe this November, even in what’s shaping up to be a strong Democratic year. Jason Zengerle, New York Times, "How Devin Nunes Turned the House Intelligence Committee Inside Out," 24 Apr. 2018 Will the election shape up like 2006, with a flood of support for Democrats shifting the chamber to the party? Philip Bump, Washington Post, "The last time women backed House Democrats so broadly? 2006.," 22 Jan. 2018 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

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


to take the place or position of

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