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sheer1

[sheer]
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adjective, sheer·er, sheer·est.
  1. transparently thin; diaphanous, as some fabrics: sheer stockings.
  2. unmixed with anything else: We drilled a hundred feet through sheer rock.
  3. unqualified; utter: sheer nonsense.
  4. extending down or up very steeply; almost completely vertical: a sheer descent of rock.
  5. British Obsolete. bright; shining.
adverb
  1. clear; completely; quite: ran sheer into the thick of battle.
  2. perpendicularly; vertically; down or up very steeply.
noun
  1. a thin, diaphanous material, as chiffon or voile.

Origin of sheer1

1175–1225; Middle English scere, shere, schere free, clear, bright, thin; probably < Old Norse skǣrr; change of sk- > s(c)h- perhaps by influence of the related Old English scīr (E dial. shire clear, pure, thin); cognate with German schier, Old Norse skīr, Gothic skeirs clear; see shine1
Related formssheer·ly, adverbsheer·ness, noun
Can be confusedshear sheer

Synonyms

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2. mere, simple, pure, unadulterated. 3. absolute, downright. 4. abrupt, precipitous. 6. totally, entirely.

Antonyms

1. opaque.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sheerly

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Sheerly suicidal, yes, but he was desperate now, and there seemed no other way.

    Slaves of Mercury

    Nat Schachner

  • Thessaly is inspiring, but his influence is sheerly intellectual.

  • Alwynne, eating her wing of chicken, was merely and sheerly shy.

    Regiment of Women

    Clemence Dane

  • Thor grew interested in the sheerly human aspects of the subject.

  • The weariest and the most wistful faces were sheerly transfigured by it.

    If Winter Comes

    A.S.M. Hutchinson


British Dictionary definitions for sheerly

sheer1

adjective
  1. perpendicular; very steepa sheer cliff
  2. (of textiles) so fine as to be transparent
  3. (prenominal) absolute; unmitigatedsheer folly
  4. obsolete bright or shining
adverb
  1. steeply or perpendicularly
  2. completely or absolutely
noun
  1. any transparent fabric used for making garments
Derived Formssheerly, adverbsheerness, noun

Word Origin

Old English scīr; related to Old Norse skīrr bright, Gothic skeirs clear, Middle High German schīr

sheer2

verb (foll by off or away ( from ))
  1. to deviate or cause to deviate from a course
  2. (intr) to avoid an unpleasant person, thing, topic, etc
noun
  1. the upward sweep of the deck or bulwarks of a vessel
  2. nautical the position of a vessel relative to its mooring

Word Origin

C17: perhaps variant of shear
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for sheerly

sheer

adj.

c.1200, "exempt, free from guilt" (e.g. Sheer Thursday, the Thursday of Holy Week); later schiere "thin, sparse" (c.1400), from Old English scir "bright, clear, gleaming; translucent; pure, unmixed," and influenced by Old Norse cognate scær "bright, clean, pure," both from Proto-Germanic *skeran- (cf. Old Saxon skiri, Old Frisian skire, German schier, Gothic skeirs "clean, pure"), from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) "to cut" (see shear (v.)).

Sense of "absolute, utter" (sheer nonsense) developed 1580s, probably from the notion of "unmixed;" that of "very steep" (a sheer cliff) is first recorded 1800, probably from notion of "continued without halting." Meaning "diaphanous" is from 1560s. As an adverb from c.1600.

sheer

v.

1620s, "deviate from course" (of a ship), of obscure origin, perhaps from Dutch scheren "to move aside, withdraw, depart," originally "to separate" (see shear (v.)). Related: Sheered; shearing. As a noun from 1660s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper