From ship + shapen (“shaped; wrought with a definite shape”), later shortened to shape. The word is of nautical origin, based on the obligation of a sailor to keep his or her quarters arranged neatly and securely due to the limited space typically allotted to service members aboard ship, and against turbulence at sea.
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈʃɪpʃeɪp/
Audio (RP) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˈʃɪpˌʃeɪp/
- Hyphenation: ship‧shape
- (originally nautical) Meticulously neat and tidy.
- Synonyms: shipshape and Bristol fashion, tight; see also Thesaurus:orderly
- Antonyms: see Thesaurus:disorderly
- 1823, [James Fenimore Cooper], chapter V, in The Pioneers, or The Sources of the Susquehanna; […], volume II, New York, N.Y.: Charles Wiley; […], →OCLC, page 83:
- [I]t would have been more ship-shape to lower the bight of a rope, or a running bow-line, below me, than to seize an old sea-man by his head-lanyard; [...]
- 1827, [Walter Scott], chapter VII, in Chronicles of the Canongate; […], volume I, Edinburgh: […] [Ballantyne and Co.] for Cadell and Co.; London: Simpkin and Marshall, →OCLC, page 111:
- When we set out on the jolly voyage of life, what a brave fleet there is around us, as stretching our fresh canvas to the breeze, all "shipshape and Bristol fashion," pennons flying, music playing, cheering each other as we pass, we are rather amused than alarmed when some awkward comrade goes right ashore for want of pilotage!
- 1835 July, Jack Block, “The Cruise of the Mohawk”, in The American Monthly Magazine, volume V, number V, New York, N.Y.: D. K. Minor, and T. & C. Wood, →OCLC, page 421:
- [G]lad to see you, gentlemen—steerage not quite shipshape at present—overhauling ship, you see; but when we once get under way, get things shipshape, you know.
- ship-shape (archaic)
- (originally nautical) Neatly and tidily to a meticulous extent.
- Synonym: handsomely
- 1860 September, “The Observations of Mace Sloper, Esq.: Second Series. The Cottage on the North River.”, in Lewis Gaylord Clark, editor, The Knickerbocker, or New-York Monthly Magazine, volume LVI, number 3, New York, N.Y.: John A. Gray, […], →OCLC, pages 293–294:
- I have said a good deal about Bertha, because I like her frank, easy way, her desire to please, and her pleasant natural manner of doing it. I do n't think novel-writers and picture-makers say enough about such girls. [...] Those are the girls, Ma'am, whom I want to see described by people who know how to do this sort of thing up shipshape.
- ship-shape (archaic)