Definition: Shape

From New World Encyclopedia


From Middle English shap, schape, from Old English ġesceap (“shape, form, created being, creature, creation, dispensation, fate, condition, sex, gender, genitalia”), from Proto-West Germanic *ga- + *skap, from Proto-Germanic *ga- + *skapą (“shape, nature, condition”). Cognate with Middle Dutch schap (“form”), Middle High German geschaf (“creature”), Icelandic skap (“state, condition, temper, mood”).

The verb is from Middle English shapen, schapen, from Old English scieppan (“to shape, form, make, create, assign, arrange, destine, order, adjudge”), from Proto-Germanic *skapjaną (“to create”), from the noun. Cognate with Dutch scheppen, German schaffen, Swedish skapa (“create, make”), Norwegian Bokmål skape (“create”). Doublet of -ship.


shape (countable and uncountable, plural shapes)

  1. The status or condition of something
    The used bookshop wouldn't offer much due to the poor shape of the book.
  2. Condition of personal health, especially muscular health.
    The vet checked to see what kind of shape the animal was in.
    We exercise to keep in good physical shape.
  3. The appearance of something, especially its outline.
    He cut a square shape out of the cake.
  4. A figure with unspecified appearance; especially a geometric figure.
    What shape shall we use for the cookies? Stars, circles, or diamonds?
Derived terms
  • contest shape
  • in any way, shape, or form
  • in no shape to
  • in no way, shape, or form
  • in shape
  • out of shape
  • shapeless
  • shapely
  • shape-shifter
  • shape-shifting
  • shipshape
  • take shape
  • the shape of things to come


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