The characteristic surface configuration of a thing; an outline or contour. See Synonyms at form. Something distinguished from its surroundings by its outline. The contour of a person's body; the figure. A definite distinctive form: "The bomb gave the shape of life, outer and inner, an irreversible charge; a sense of fatefulness would now lie on all things\u201d ( Alfred Kazin). A desirable form: a fabric that holds its shape. A form or condition in which something may exist or appear; embodiment: a god in the shape of a swan. Assumed or false appearance; guise. A ghostly form; a phantom. Something, such as a mold or pattern, used to give or determine form. The proper condition of something necessary for action, effectiveness, or use: an athlete in excellent shape. To give a particular form to; create. To cause to conform to a particular form or pattern; adapt to fit. To plan to bring about the realization or accomplishment of; devise. To embody in a definite form: shaped a folk legend into a full-scale opera. To adapt to a particular use or purpose; adjust. To direct the course of: "He shaped history as well as being shaped by it\u201d ( Robert J. Samuelson). To come to pass; happen. To take on a definite shape or form. Often used with up or into. shape up Informal To turn out; develop. shape up To improve so as to meet a standard: Either shape up or ship out.