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

In the 1970s, after the theme-park era began to shape Florida tourism, smaller attractions struggled, and ABC sold Weeki Wachee. Joy Wallace Dickinson, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida’s mermaid spring still sings its siren song," 2 Sep. 2019 Finally, Dagher tells a more familiar but nevertheless important story of the way that regional and global powers came to shape the course of the conflict. Anthony Dworkin, Washington Post, "A view of Syria’s civil war, from Assad’s inner circle," 30 Aug. 2019 Recruitment certainly does not equal admission, but Harvard starts to shape its incoming class through these early encounters and follows up diligently and often through email, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat. New York Times, "Where Does Affirmative Action Leave Asian-Americans?," 30 Aug. 2019 But there's an abiding irony to all this: No single figure has done more to shape the modern NFL. Jon Wertheim, SI.com, "How the Influence of Al Davis Shaped the Modern NFL," 27 Aug. 2019 Still, Margaret Chan, then WHO’s director, pledged the agency’s support, and the eradication goal began to shape policy and research. Martin Enserink, Science | AAAS, "Is setting a deadline for eradicating malaria a good idea? Scientists are divided," 27 Aug. 2019 Besides Halas, no person has done more to shape the Chicago Bears than Ditka. Will Larkin, chicagotribune.com, "Ranking the 100 best Bears players ever: No. 11, Mike Ditka," 26 Aug. 2019 The aim of the meeting is to shape global responses to challenges affecting countries worldwide. Julia Webster, Time, "Everything You Need to Know About the 2019 G7 Summit," 24 Aug. 2019 The real treasure is a better understanding of this powerful economic force that continues to shape the world today. Amy Crawford, Smithsonian, "Why Spain Is Seeking to Catalog All of Its Historic Shipwrecks," 23 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Now maybe folks will pay more attention to the 23-year-old Russian’s unusual brand of shape-shifting tennis, which carried him past Wawrinka, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, despite 12 double-faults and a body that’s just short of breaking down. Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, "Roger Federer upended in US Open quarterfinals," 3 Sep. 2019 And now, scientists have provided the first evidence that all of this selective tweaking hasn't just changed dogs' sizes, shapes, colors and behaviors - it's also altered the way their brains are built. Jason Bittel, Anchorage Daily News, "As humans shaped dogs’ bodies, we also altered their brains," 3 Sep. 2019 His Strokes-style haircut is shorn into a tidy little bowl shape, presumably so that oh-so-heavy crown will fit better. Time, "Timothée Chalamet’s Bad-Boy Monarch in The King Isn’t For Shakespeare Purists—He’s For All of Us," 3 Sep. 2019 In an era full of big servers and power baseliners like Osaka and Serena Williams, Bencic is succeeding as a shape-shifting counterpuncher who thrives on quick pace but also knows how to change it. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Naomi Osaka Is Ousted From the U.S. Open by a Resurgent Belinda Bencic," 2 Sep. 2019 Each year, the Blue Knights graduate a different set of stars and need to take a different shape, with different players who are expected to replace the impact players of years past. Shawn Mcfarland, courant.com, "High school football: After an undefeated regular season in 2018, Southington looks to reload this fall," 1 Sep. 2019 Excess water runoff can cause erosion, the weight of soil (especially wet soil) can eventually push it out of shape, or a large tree or shrub with vigorous roots could do the same. oregonlive, "Can I plant some dwarf trees on a retaining wall? Ask an expert," 31 Aug. 2019 Analysts at a bloody crime scene typically look for patterns relating to the size, shape, location, and distribution of blood stains. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Physicists now have even better models for blood spatter from gunshot wounds," 29 Aug. 2019 Forget small-ball, position-less, development, last-dance, potential, world-class shape, ad nauseam contradictory reasons. Ira Winderman, sun-sentinel.com, "ASK IRA: In the end, did Mario Chalmers steal Jeremy Lin’s soul?," 28 Aug. 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

5 Sep 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

readily or continually undergoing change

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!