\ ˈshir How to pronounce shear (audio) \
sheared; sheared or shorn\ ˈshȯrn How to pronounce shorn (audio) \; 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

Examples of shear in a Sentence

Verb The farmers sheared the sheep. The farmers sheared the wool from the sheep.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The fighter jet sheared off part of the tanker’s refueling hose, barely avoiding a full-on collision. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "Faulty Equipment, Lapsed Training, Repeated Warnings: How a Preventable Disaster Killed Six Marines," 2 Jan. 2020 The landing gear sheared off, the chin turret was smashed and pushed into the nose; the Plexiglas nose was shattered; bomb bay doors, fuselage, fuselage, ball turret, wing and nacelles all took a tremendous beating. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The History of Nine-O-Nine, the B-17 Bomber That Crashed This Week," 3 Oct. 2019 In taking over the local grid, the city would be shearing itself off from an enormous, and likely chronic, set of risks and costs. Washington Post, "San Francisco Might Divorce PG&E But Not Wildfire Costs," 18 Apr. 2019 The previous year, a misstep during a race dislocated his kneecap and sheared the cartilage off the back of his kneecap and upper femur. Christine Fennessy, Outside Online, "The Coach That Meets You in Your Inbox," 16 Dec. 2019 The trees have a natural shape or are sheared to a shape that meets the expectations of a Christmas tree. Calvin Finch,, "The best living evergreen Christmas trees you can plant later in your San Antonio garden," 28 Nov. 2019 The bullet had simply sheared off a piece of muscle and flesh., "A History of Football in 100 Objects," 28 Aug. 2019 Dwight Adams/IndyStar Six people were transported to area hospitals following a two-car accident which left one car sheared in half, Fox59 reported. Indianapolis Star, "6 hospitalized after car sheared in half in 2-vehicle crash," 28 Oct. 2019 With them, Jenner wore the typical model off-duty outfit of tiny sunglasses, a white tank top, a polished blazer, sheared-off black shorts, and a graffiti logo Balenciaga bag. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Walks Out in a Crazy Cool Cowboy Boot," 20 Sep. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Officers believed pruning shears were used to clip some branches. cleveland, "Man admits fear of deer attack: Highland Heights Police Blotter," 12 Dec. 2019 Overgrown shrubs or hedges can and should be transformed with a pair of lopping shears. Washington Post, "The winter garden is full of promise and productivity. Don’t let it go to waste.," 20 Nov. 2019 From the blade to the handle, a pair of kitchen shears is stouter than regular household scissors. The Editors, Outdoor Life, "Three Features to Consider Before Buying Kitchen Shears," 18 Nov. 2019 Take a picture and then get out the whacking shears. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "Uh-oh. Here's how to deal with overgrown house plants come summer’s end," 16 Aug. 2019 Sewing machines whir, shears are snipping, and an atelier of about 40 presided over by Bastide Rey are dutifully working to make Maria Grazia Chiuri’s vision into a reality. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "“With Creativity You Can Propose a New Future”: Maria Grazia Chiuri Reveals the Making of Her Dior Spring 2020 Collection," 27 Sep. 2019 Start with strong lopping shears and perhaps a pruning saw. Neil Sperry,, "Keep kids safe from poisonous plants: teach them not to graze," 19 Sep. 2019 In a few blunt strokes of the shears, Cox turns her real-life (wig?) bangs from bouncy to busted, a move making many fans scream more than any Ghostface could. Marcus Jones,, "We're Scream-ing! Watch Courteney Cox cut new bangs to honor Gale Weathers' iconic hair," 31 Oct. 2019 But when there's shear flow, a current underneath, the angle changes. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "How One Physicist Solved a 127-Year-Old Wave Riddle," 21 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for shear

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shear

Last Updated

13 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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More Definitions for shear


How to pronounce shear (audio)

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 How to pronounce shear (audio) \
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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Comments on shear

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