knock something/someone into 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.
See also: knock, shape, something
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