shape up or ship out

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

shape up or ship out

  1. (idiomatic) To either improve one's behavior or else be required to leave; to either improve one's performance in an activity or else withdraw from that activity completely.
    • 1978, R. Z. Sheppard, "The Far Side of Friendship (review of Scott and Ernest by Matthew J. Bruccoli)," Time, 3 Apr.:
      Portions of those letters quoted by Bruccoli indicate that though Hemingway could be sympathetic, he used a lot of ink telling Fitzgerald to shape up or ship out.

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