\ 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


plural shapes

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 The plan is starting to come into shape. — see also take 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

Other Words from shape


shaper noun


shaped \ ˌshāpt How to pronounce shape (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 How has growing up in Worcester inspired you to help shape the city’s future? Jeneé Osterheldt,, 19 June 2022 While outside advisors and other VCs can help shape the market view, founders hold the keys to conveying how their companies are unique, different, or simply better than any others. Mike Ghaffary, Fortune, 15 June 2022 But there were a lot of other important developments that will help shape important races ahead of November. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 15 June 2022 Immigration policy will help shape the extent to which the economy relies on people vs. machines in the decades to come. Michael Luca, Washington Post, 10 June 2022 Traders and strategists say the inflation data could heavily influence the next stretch of trading for markets and help shape the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate decisions for later this year. WSJ, 10 June 2022 Jones leaned on the film’s talent to help shape everything from character looks to the film’s settings. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 June 2022 Apple Music believes each artist will help shape Black music in the years to come. Darlene Aderoju, Billboard, 1 June 2022 In cities, counties, and states across the country, other races just like Farley’s will help shape the future of U.S. energy policy. Justin Worland, Time, 19 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But now that Juneteenth is a federal holiday, complete with offices and schools closing in recognition of it, the inevitable has also taken shape: commercialism. Michelle Garcia, NBC News, 19 June 2022 Using three shape-shifting actors, contained within a spinning glass box of a set, the play journeyed all the way from the Wall Street giant’s humble origins in 1844 to its ignominious collapse in 2008. New York Times, 13 June 2022 The movie is two hours and 20 minutes of sound and fury: a kaleidoscopic head-trip meditation on David Bowie, rock’s shape-shifting astronaut of identity. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 25 May 2022 While Todd Haynes successfully appropriated artistic aesthetics associated with his subject in last year’s The Velvet Underground, Morgen’s attempt to do something similar with shape-shifting Bowie doesn’t come close to the same immediacy. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 23 May 2022 Guests can fly in by helicopter for a bird's eye view of this dramatic shape-shifting landscape. Anabel Dean, CNN, 18 May 2022 Once there, she is menaced by local men played—every one of them—by the shape-shifting actor Rory Kinnear. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, 18 May 2022 It's set to feature the Skrulls, who've managed to use their shape-shifting powers to infiltrate Earth over years. Devan Coggan,, 17 May 2022 Her incarnation of The Doctor, a shape-shifting, time-traveling alien, appeared in a January episode of the show but wasn't meant to replace Whittaker's. Naledi Ushe, USA TODAY, 8 May 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of shape


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for shape


Middle English, from Old English sceapen, gescapen, past participle of scieppan; akin to Old High German skepfen to shape

Learn More About shape

Time Traveler for shape

Time Traveler

The first known use of shape was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near shape



shaped charge

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Last Updated

21 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shape.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for shape


\ 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



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


transitive verb
\ ˈshāp How to pronounce shape (audio) \
shaped; shaping

Medical Definition of shape

: to modify (behavior) by rewarding changes that tend toward a desired response

More from Merriam-Webster on shape

Nglish: Translation of shape for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shape for Arabic Speakers


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