\ˈshir \
sheared; sheared or shorn\ˈshȯrn \; shearing

Definition of shear 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to cut off the hair from

b : to cut or clip (hair, wool, etc.) from someone or something also : to cut something from shear a lawn

c chiefly Scotland : to reap with a sickle

d : to cut or trim with shears or a similar instrument

2 : to cut with something sharp

3 : to deprive of something as if by cutting lives shorn of any hope— M. W. Browne

4a : to subject to a shear force

b : to cause (something, such as a rock mass) to move along the plane of contact

intransitive verb

1 : to cut through something with or as if with a sharp instrument

2 chiefly Scotland : to reap crops with a sickle

3 : to become divided under the action of a shear



Definition of shear (Entry 2 of 2)

1a(1) : a cutting implement similar or identical to a pair of scissors but typically larger usually used in plural

(2) : one blade of a pair of shears

b : any of various cutting tools or machines operating by the action of opposed cutting edges of metal usually used in plural

c(1) : something resembling a shear or a pair of shears

(2) : a hoisting apparatus consisting of two or sometimes more upright spars fastened together at their upper ends and having tackle for masting or dismasting ships or lifting heavy loads (such as guns) usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

2 chiefly British : the action or process or an instance of shearing used in combination to indicate the approximate age of sheep in terms of shearings undergone

3a : internal force tangential to the section on which it acts

called also shearing force

b : an action or stress resulting from applied forces that causes or tends to cause two contiguous parts of a body to slide relatively to each other in a direction parallel to their plane of contact

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Other Words from shear


shearer noun

Synonyms for shear

Synonyms: Verb

cut, gash, incise, rip, slash, slice, slit

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Examples of shear in a Sentence


The farmers sheared the sheep. The farmers sheared the wool from the sheep.

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But the process of obtaining the wool—factory farming and shearing sheep—can be inhumane. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "What Will It Take To Make Vegan Wool?," 29 June 2018 The accident left the school bus on its side, torn from its undercarriage and with its front end sheared off. Paul Berger, WSJ, "N.J. Authorities Probing Possible Illegal U-Turn in Fatal Bus Crash," 18 May 2018 But his profile is solemn: a sharp jawline, chin raised and jutted, tinted sunglasses that appear more fogged-over than tinted, hair sheared short, perhaps by an electric razor. New York Times, "The Artists Who Brought Asian-Americans Into the Annals of Contemporary Art," 12 Apr. 2018 One next-door neighbor’s shears clip-clip-clip through her bushes, while the other’s mower roars through his grass. Fluto Shinzawa,, "The soundtrack of the Tour de France," 29 June 2018 Band manager Thomas Cody said all of the band members’ kilts were made of natural wool like the kind being sheared Sunday. Frank Vaisvilas, Daily Southtown, "Just in time for spring, sheep lose their coats at Children's Farm in Palos," 1 May 2018 His left landing gear was sheared off in the accident. Laurel Andrews, Anchorage Daily News, "First findings released in Susitna River fatal midair plane collision," 22 June 2018 Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava last month and said the molten rock nearly sheared his leg in half. James Rogers, Fox News, "Hawaii volcano: Kilauea lava boiled away Big Island's largest freshwater lake," 13 June 2018 The force of the T-bone collision at roughly 11:30 p.m. sheared off the driver’s side door of the 2006 Ford Mustang car driven by Brando Noe Contreras, and threw the 19-year-old from the car. Teri Figueroa,, "Not guilty plea in Escondido crash that killed two in March," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those wondering if the supermodel had picked up the shears soon got an answer via Instagram. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "Irina Shayk Debuts a Bold New Bob for the DSquared2 Front Row," 18 June 2018 Punk Pixies Brushed up to match her full-bodied, dark brown brows, model Martine Dirkzwager Wu embraced the opportunity to go under the shears as Palau’s muse for this freshly shorn, strategically tousled crop. Vogue, "Dior Just Served Up 5 Striking Hair Ideas for the July Fourth Weekend," 2 July 2018 From trimming vegetables to cutting herbs or just opening packages, a handy pair of heavy duty, dishwasher- safe shears are unfailingly convenient. 2. Cathy Deimeke, USA TODAY, "Ask a Doc: What can I do to make healthy eating fun and easy for my kids?," 4 July 2018 Attendees should bring heavy shears and an old bath towel. Shelia Poole, ajc, "Things to do in and around Atlanta this weekend," 18 May 2018 An approaching front will add to the already high shear in the area. Brett Clarkson,, "Low chance of a 'weak tropical cyclone' as disturbance moves toward Florida," 3 May 2018 Kitchen Shears Don’t underestimate what a great pair of kitchen shears can contribute to your kitchen prep work. Cathy Deimeke, USA TODAY, "Ask a Doc: What can I do to make healthy eating fun and easy for my kids?," 4 July 2018 The model guidance suggests a modest amount of shear will be present this afternoon. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, "Severe thunderstorm watch: Storms approaching D.C.’s southern suburbs," 10 May 2018 About the woman with the shears: her grandmother, Sophia. Jason Hammel, Bon Appetit, "The Accidental Apprentice," 3 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shear.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of shear


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a(1)

History and Etymology for shear


Middle English sheren, from Old English scieran; akin to Old Norse skera to cut, Latin curtus mutilated, curtailed, Greek keirein to cut, shear, Sanskrit kṛnāti he injures

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Phrases Related to shear

pruning shears

shear off

Statistics for shear

Last Updated

8 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for shear

The first known use of shear was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for shear



English Language Learners Definition of shear

: to cut the hair, wool, etc., off (an animal)

: to cut off (an animal's hair, wool, etc.)

: to cut off a person's hair


\ˈshir \
sheared; sheared or shorn\ˈshȯrn \; shearing

Kids Definition of shear

1 : to cut the hair or wool from : clip shear sheep

2 : to cut or clip (as hair or wool) from something

3 : to strip of as if by cutting The tyrants were shorn of their power.

4 : to cut or break sharply The sign was sheared off by a car.

Other Words from shear

shearer noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on shear

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for shear

Spanish Central: Translation of shear

Nglish: Translation of shear for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of shear for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about shear

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