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

Other Words from shear


shearer noun

Synonyms for shear

Synonyms: Verb

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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 Counter-rotating the wafers causes the creme to shear and flow before fracturing, as the two wafers come apart. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 19 Apr. 2022 Paleontologists don’t just define sabertooths by their flat scimitar fangs, but by other adaptations like the ability to shear meat with their cheek teeth, a groove in the lower jaw for their canine teeth to fit, and other feeding adaptations. Riley Black, Smithsonian Magazine, 15 Mar. 2022 At least the Nees, who co-wrote the screenplay with Oren Uziel and Dana Fox, shear off as much emotional backstory as possible. Amy Nicholson, WSJ, 24 Mar. 2022 Big, thriving corporations were permitted to shear off a large portion of their workforce because there were no unions to stop them. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 10 Mar. 2022 Women’s axons — nerve fibers that unfurl between neurons to form communication networks — have a generally leaner architecture that could shear more easily during trauma. New York Times, 1 Mar. 2022 At some point, the rest of them just shear off, and the result is calamity. Ray Magliozzi, San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Mar. 2022 The top of the cave was sheared off to expose the interior, and a church was built around it to enclose the tomb. National Geographic, 31 Oct. 2016 The day will include the chance to observe Chris Woolybuns shearing her angora rabbit, then spinning angora yarn. Courant Community, 30 May 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Applying sufficiently large shear force, however, provides the energy needed to stretch the polymer molecules out and align them lengthwise. H. Joachim Schlichting, Scientific American, 12 Mar. 2021 The shear is generated as the jet stream, which separates cold air from warm air, dives into the Lower 48 states. Jason Samenow, Anchorage Daily News, 12 Dec. 2021 Wind shear — where wind tugs at a hurricane from different directions — disrupts the concentration of thunderstorms necessary to form the core of a hurricane or tropical storm, said Jonathan Erdman, senior meteorologist for David Fleshler,, 12 Nov. 2021 How much cleavage, compression, flexure, impact, tension, or shear is required to break the plane of a Titebond bond? Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 5 Jan. 2022 This steel bypass pruning shear by Fiskars delivers a lot of quality at an economical price. Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 2 Dec. 2021 Now here is the secret — put the shears away and let the hedge grow. Tom Maccubbin,, 18 May 2017 A set of kitchen shears is handy for breaking down a chicken, snipping herbs and cutting off those pesky heavy-duty rubber bands binding the broccoli. Kristen Hartke, The Denver Post, 5 May 2017 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

3 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for shear


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on shear

Nglish: Translation of shear for Spanish Speakers

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


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