Meaning of SHAPE in English

I. ˈshāp verb

( shaped ; shaped or archaic shap·en -pən ; shaping ; shapes )

Etymology: Middle English shapen, alteration of Old English sceppan, scyppan; akin to Old High German skepfen to shape, form, create, Old Norse skepja, Gothic ga skapjan to create, and perhaps to Latin scabere to scratch, scrape — more at shave

transitive verb

1. : form , create ; especially : to give a particular or proper form to by or as if by molding or modeling from an undifferentiated mass

2. : to give definite or finished shape to especially by altering a prior shape

shaping rolls from dough

shaped a sturdy mortar from the log

3. obsolete : ordain , decree , destine , appoint

there's a divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew them how we will — Shakespeare


a. : to alter or manipulate so as to give a particular form or produce a particular object — usually used with into

shaping the seasoned lumber into a sturdy frame

shapes the clay into bricks

heat and shape the iron

b. obsolete : to change in form : metamorphose

c. archaic : to cut out and fashion (as a garment)

d. : to adapt in shape usually so as to fit neatly and closely — usually used with to

a dress shaped to her figure

e. : to fashion (a knitted garment) by decreasing or increasing according to pattern

f. : to style (hair) by thinning and tapering especially to the contour of the head


a. : to marshal facts and present them by way of (answer)

shapes an earnest answer to the accusation

b. : to give a particular form or direction to : devise , plan

together shaped a dark conspiracy

c. : to embody in definite or definitive form

shaping a folktale into an epic

— often used with up

shaping up a set of notes for publication

6. archaic : to bring about : contrive


a. : to make fit for (as a particular use or purpose) : adapt , regulate , adjust

shaping a character to future responsibilities

b. : to determine or direct the course of (as conduct, life, history)

shaping our plans for a happy holiday

8. : to produce a plane surface on (work) by means of a tool that moves to and fro — compare mill , plane

intransitive verb

1. : to come to pass usually in a particular way : happen , befall

if things shape right

2. archaic : to cut out and fashion clothing

3. obsolete : suit , conform


a. : to take on or approach a mature form — often used with up

b. : to develop to or toward a definitive form (as in character, proficiency, or excellence) : show promise — often used with up

Synonyms: see make

- shape one's course

II. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English shap, from Old English gesceap, from ge- (perfective, associative, and collective prefix) + -sceap (akin to Old English sceppan, scyppan to shape, form, create) — more at co-


a. : the visible makeup characteristic of a particular item or kind of item : characteristic appearance or visible form

a demon appearing in the shape of a man


(1) : spatial form or contour that is usually fixed by a relatively constant spatial relation between the parts of the periphery or surface

water takes the shape of its container

a common shape of glass

the shape of a jellyfish

(2) : any of numerous standardized or universally recognized and usually basically geometric spatial forms or contours

squares, diamonds, and other shapes

a hill of perfect cone shape

c. : phonetic composition or structure or a representation thereof

emphatic of has the shape |əv or |äv, unemphatic of usually has the shape əv

2. : the appearance of the body usually as distinguished from that of the face : bodily contour especially with respect to beauty : figure

bathing beauties showing their shapes

your whole shape shows when you stand against the light


[Middle English shap male or female sex organ, from Old English sceap; akin to Old English sceppan, scyppan ]

dialect chiefly England : the female pudenda


a. dialect chiefly England : a represented form (as a painting or photograph)

b. : phantom , apparition

c. : assumed appearance : guise , likeness

our troubles started in the shape of a helpful neighbor


(1) obsolete : a theatrical role or its makeup

(2) : a stage costume

5. : form of embodiment (as in words) : form (as of thought) that is relatively definite and organized

a plan was beginning to take shape as they argued

whipping his speech into shape

6. : a mode of existence or form of being having identifying or individuating features

the first shape of an essay

the final shape of a society

7. : something having a particular form

a hatter's shape

a metal shape for holding flowers


a. : a mold for imparting a shape to a food (as a jelly or blancmange) ; also : a dish molded in a shape


(1) : a length of metal (as a bar or beam) having a constant cross section ; also : one with a cross section other than square, rectangular, round, or hexagonal

(2) : a piece roughly forged to approximately the final form

c. : a cone, ball, or drum of light metal or canvas hoisted in making signals on a ship

d. : a gaming die with one or more faces rounded so that it is more likely to fall one way than another

e. : the bend of a fishhook

8. dialect chiefly England : bodily posture : attitude


a. : condition in which someone or something exists at a particular time usually as compared with a more general state or that of the same item at other occasions or on the average

in excellent shape for his age

the market has been in poor shape lately

b. : good condition (as for sports)

Synonyms: see form

- in no shape

- in shape

III. transitive verb

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

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.