Meaning of “shape” in the English Dictionary

"shape" in British English

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shapenoun

uk /ʃeɪp/ us /ʃeɪp/

shape noun (FORM)

B1 [ C or U ] the particular physical form or appearance of something:

Clay can be moulded into almost any shape.
These bricks are all different shapes.
Kim's birthday cake was in the shape of a train.
Our table is oval in shape.
My bicycle wheel is bent out of shape.
This T-shirt has been washed so many times that it's lost its shape (= has become loose and lost its form).

B1 [ C ] an arrangement that is formed by joining lines together in a particular way or by the line or lines around its outer edge:

a round/square/circular/oblong shape
A triangle is a shape with three sides.
The children made patterns by sticking coloured shapes onto paper.

[ C ] the physical form or appearance of a particular person or thing:

In the story, Faust is tempted by the Devil, who has taken the shape of a man.
Life on earth takes many shapes.

[ C ] a person or object that you cannot see clearly because it is too dark, or because the person or object is too far away:

I could see a dark shape in the street outside.
all shapes and sizes

C2 many different types:

We sell all shapes and sizes of teddy bear.
Cars come in all shapes and sizes.
in any shape or form

of any type:

I'm opposed to war in any shape or form.

More examples

  • We could see a dim shape in the fog.
  • Ask a grown-up to cut the shape out for you.
  • Those seven bright stars make the shape of a saucepan.
  • This substance stretches to any shape you want.
  • A heart shape is the symbol of love.

shape noun (CONDITION)

B2 [ U ] condition, or state of health:

He bought up businesses that were in bad/poor shape, and then sold them off piece by piece.
"How are you?" "Oh, I'm in great shape."
You're in no shape (= not in a good enough state of health) to go to work today.

B2 [ U ] good physical condition:

It's taken us five years to get our house into shape.
She runs six miles every day to help keep herself in shape.
I haven't had any exercise for weeks, and I'm really out of shape (= not in good physical condition).

shapeverb [ T ]

uk /ʃeɪp/ us /ʃeɪp/

shape verb [ T ] (CHARACTER)

C2 to decide or influence the form of something, especially a belief or idea, or someone's character:

Many people are not able to shape their own destinies.
My relationship with my father played a major part in shaping my attitude towards men.
He was very influential in shaping the country's economic policy/strategy.

More examples

  • Our national identity has been shaped by our history.
  • A child's character is in part shaped by the schools he or she attends.
  • We are all shaped by our experiences.
  • My whole outlook has been shaped by my relationship with him.
  • She felt that her destiny had been shaped by her gender.

shape verb [ T ] (FORM)

to make something become a particular shape:

The skirt has been shaped so that it hangs loosely.
When you've made the dough, shape it into two loaves.

formal to make an object from a physical substance:

Early humans shaped tools out of stone.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “shape” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"shape" in American English

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shapenoun

us /ʃeɪp/

shape noun (APPEARANCE)

[ C/U ] the particular way something looks as a whole:

[ U ] Our table is oval in shape.
[ C ] The birthday cake for Luis was in the shape of a heart.
[ U ] These old sweatpants are all stretched out of shape (= changed from their original form).

art [ C/U ] A shape is also an arrangement that is formed by joining lines together in a particular way:

[ C ] A triangle is a shape with three sides.

[ C/U ] A shape is also a person or object that you cannot see clearly because it is too dark, or because the person or object is too far away.

shape noun (CONDITION)

[ U ] (of a thing) condition, or (of a person) state of health:

The city’s finances are in bad shape.
I keep myself in good shape by running five miles a day.

[ U ] Shape can also mean good physical condition:

He’s in/out of shape (= in good/not in good condition).
I try to stay in shape.

shape noun (FORM)

[ U ] the way something is organized; the general character or nature of something:

The governor’s new program is finally beginning to take shape (= become better organized).

shapeverb [ T ]

us /ʃeɪp/

shape verb [ T ] (FORM)

to cause something to have a particular character or nature; form:

We’re worried that they will try to shape the issue in a way that doesn't reflect what’s really going on.
He had a major influence in shaping the government’s economic policies.

shape verb [ T ] (APPEARANCE)

to make something look a particular way:

Shape the dough into balls.

Phrasal verb(s)

(Definition of “shape” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"shape" in Business English

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shapenoun [ U or S ]

uk /ʃeɪp/ us

the way that something is organized, or its general character or nature:

the shape of sth Technological developments have changed the shape of industry.
We need to change the whole shape of our ad campaign.

the condition something is in, or how strong something is:

in good/great shape Our investments sailed through the recent downturn in fairly good shape with a diversified base.
in bad/poor/terrible shape
in no shape to do sth You should stay in bed; you're in no shape to go to work today.

(Definition of “shape” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)