[ sheer ]
See synonyms for: shearshearsshorn on

verb (used with object),sheared, sheared or shorn, shear·ing.
  1. to cut (something).

  2. to remove by or as if by cutting or clipping with a sharp instrument: to shear wool from sheep.

  1. to cut or clip the hair, fleece, wool, etc., from: to shear sheep.

  2. to strip or deprive (usually followed by of): to shear someone of power.

  3. Chiefly Scot. to reap with a sickle.

  4. to travel through by or as if by cutting: Chimney swifts sheared the air.

verb (used without object),sheared, sheared or shorn, shear·ing.
  1. to cut or cut through something with a sharp instrument.

  2. to progress by or as if by cutting: The cruiser sheared through the water.

  1. Mechanics, Geology. to become fractured along a plane as a result of forces acting parallel to the plane.

  2. Chiefly Scot. to reap crops with a sickle.

  1. Usually shears. (sometimes used with a singular verb)

    • scissors of large size (usually used with pair of).

    • any of various other cutting implements or machines having two blades that resemble or suggest those of scissors.

  2. the act or process of shearing or being sheared.

  1. a shearing of sheep (used in stating the age of sheep): a sheep of one shear.

  2. the quantity, especially of wool or fleece, cut off at one shearing.

  3. one blade of a pair of large scissors.

  4. Usually shears. Also sheers .Also called shear legs, sheerlegs [sheer-legz] /ˈʃɪərˌlɛgz/ .(usually used with a plural verb) a framework for hoisting heavy weights, consisting of two or more spars with their legs separated, fastened together near the top and steadied by guys, which support a tackle.

  5. a machine for cutting rigid material, as metal in sheet or plate form, by moving the edge of a blade through it.

  6. Mechanics, Geology. the tendency of forces to deform or fracture a member or a rock in a direction parallel to the force, as by sliding one section against another.

  7. Physics. the lateral deformation produced in a body by an external force, expressed as the ratio of the lateral displacement between two points lying in parallel planes to the vertical distance between the planes.

Origin of shear

First recorded before 900; (verb) Middle English sheren, Old English sceran, cognate with Dutch, German scheren, Old Norse skera; (noun) (in sense “tool for shearing”) Middle English sheres (plural), continuing Old English scērero, scēar, two words derived from the same root as the verb

Other words from shear

  • shearer, noun
  • shearless, adjective

Words that may be confused with shear

Words Nearby shear Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use shear in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for shear


/ (ʃɪə) /

verbshears, shearing or sheared or Australian and NZ shore, sheared or shorn
  1. (tr) to remove (the fleece or hair) of (sheep, etc) by cutting or clipping

  2. to cut or cut through (something) with shears or a sharp instrument

  1. engineering to cause (a part, member, shaft, etc) to deform or fracture or (of a part, etc) to deform or fracture as a result of excess torsion or transverse load

  2. (tr often foll by of) to strip or divest: to shear someone of his power

  3. (when intr, foll by through) to move through (something) by or as if by cutting

  4. Scot to reap (corn, etc) with a scythe or sickle

  1. the act, process, or an instance of shearing

  2. a shearing of a sheep or flock of sheep, esp when referred to as an indication of age: a sheep of two shears

  1. a form of deformation or fracture in which parallel planes in a body or assembly slide over one another

  2. physics the deformation of a body, part, etc, expressed as the lateral displacement between two points in parallel planes divided by the distance between the planes

  3. either one of the blades of a pair of shears, scissors, etc

  4. a machine that cuts sheet material by passing a knife blade through it

  5. a device for lifting heavy loads consisting of a tackle supported by a framework held steady by guy ropes

Origin of shear

Old English sceran; related to Old Norse skera to cut, Old Saxon, Old High German skeran to shear; see share ²

Derived forms of shear

  • shearer, noun

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

Scientific definitions for shear


[ shîr ]

  1. A force, movement or pressure applied to an object perpendicular to a given axis, with greater value on one side of the axis than the other. See more at shear force stress strain.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.