knock something/someone into shape

knock (someone or something) into shape

To return someone or something into acceptable condition or behavior, especially through direct, efficient, and practical means. The president won the election on his promise to knock the economy into shape by overhauling outdated or inefficient legislation. What he really needs is a mentor who will knock him into shape.
See also: knock, shape

knock something/someone into shape

or

whip something/someone into shape

COMMON If you knock something or someone into shape or whip them into shape, you improve them. After a successful career at the Italian central bank, few people doubt his ability to whip the economy into shape. Now his players will spend their time being knocked into shape for the new season. Note: In British English, you can also lick something or someone into shape. We were licked into shape by the long-serving departmental managers to whom we reported. Note: The variation `lick someone into shape' relates to an ancient belief that bear cubs were born as shapeless lumps. It was thought that their mothers then licked them until they developed their proper form.
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