Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


All this and far, far more than could ever take shape in words.

A plan was beginning to take shape in my head, but I didn't rush it.

In it the ideas and the desires by which nations live must be made to take shape.

The significance of these things was beginning to take shape in his mind.

If the horror which was gripping her throat should not take shape!

It seemed to take shape and expression, as she gazed, until it grew familiar.

It is good to see the young trees acquire size and take shape.

Such thoughts as these did not take shape distinctly in her mind.

He does not give it a name—he scarce dares let it take shape in his thoughts.

Politics must take shape in the upper strata and work downwards.


Old English scapan, past participle of scieppan "to create, form, destine" (past tense scop), from Proto-Germanic *skapjanan "create, ordain" (cf. Old Norse skapa, Danish skabe, Old Saxon scapan, Old Frisian skeppa, Middle Dutch schappen "do, treat," Old High German scaffan, German schaffen "shape, create, produce"), from PIE root *(s)kep- a base forming words meaning "to cut, scrape, hack" (see scabies), which acquired broad technical senses and in Germanic a specific sense of "to create."

Old English scieppan survived into Middle English as shippen, but shape emerged as a regular verb (with past tense shaped) by 1500s. The old past participle form shapen survives in misshapen. Middle English shepster (late 14c.) "dressmaker, female cutter-out," is literally "shape-ster," from Old English scieppan.

Meaning "to form in the mind" is from late 14c. Phrase Shape up (v.) is literally "to give form to by stiff or solid material;" attested from 1865 as "progress;" from 1938 as "reform;" shape up or ship out is attested from 1956, originally U.S. military slang, with the sense being "do right or get shipped up to active duty."


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.