\ 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

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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 There, its high winds in the upper atmosphere were expected to shear Zeta's clouds and keep it at tropical storm or Category 1 status. Mark Schleifstein,, "Hurricane Zeta was an unexpected behemoth storm. How did it become so strong, so fast?," 29 Oct. 2020 The cannonball is known as a bar-shot — two shots joined by a solid bar and designed to shear masts off of ships, Alkire explained, immobilizing them for another volley of cannon-fire. James Whitlow,, "Cannonball possibly dating back to 1800s and designed for naval warfare found in Bel Air," 23 Sep. 2020 Each storm has an envelope & window of time w/o shear to intensify. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "2 tropical storms threatening the Gulf Coast could make history," 22 Aug. 2020 With at least 1,000 tons of fuel oil estimated to have already emptied into the lagoon, two ships moved alongside to transfer off remaining fuel in a race against time as the vessel threatened to shear into two. Adam Moolna, Quartz Africa, "Mauritius is reeling from a devastating oil spill and fears of an ecological disaster," 12 Aug. 2020 The head on one would strip a moment before the screw was fully seated, while another would shear off on the last eighth of a turn, leaving me with a shiny Frearson-head penny. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Build a Boat," 2 June 2020 When blooming is over, shear plants by one-third to one-half to encourage new growth all summer. Sunset Magazine, "45 Things to Do in Your Garden Right Now," 3 Aug. 2020 The owners will shear the alpacas and sell their wool, while also making their own garments, including hats or scarves. Fox News, "5 alpacas, including rare brown one, born during coronavirus lockdown," 30 July 2020 The enormous changes that propelled the Falkland Islands through two centuries of history in twenty years actually began shortly before the war, in the late nineteen-seventies, around the time that Tony Heathman learned how to shear sheep. Larissa Macfarquhar, The New Yorker, "How Prosperity Transformed the Falklands," 29 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Wind shear tends to drop this time of year, giving storms a better chance of forming and strengthening. Ian Mcnulty | Staff Writer,, "As Katrina anniversary looms, threat of next big hurricane tests Louisiana's nerves," 24 Aug. 2020 Fluid flow in the chips is able to reproduce the body’s inner shear and stretch forces, and a chip’s interior walls provide anchor sites for cells to arrange and grow on. Shi En Kim, Science, "To study aging, scientists are looking to outer space," 2 Dec. 2020 Researchers found that while the tearing of Pine Island Glacier's shear margins has been documented since 1999, their satellite imagery shows that damage sped up dramatically in 2016. Helen Regan, CNN, "Ice shelves propping up two major Antarctic glaciers are breaking up and it could have major consequences for sea level rise," 15 Sep. 2020 No matter what happens, this slowly-developing pattern is likely to provide additional time for Sally to strengthen, as a low pressure system that was producing northwesterly shear that limited the storm's development is moving away. Staff Report,, "Hurricane Center: Sally remains major wind, rain threat as landfall shifts east; see track," 13 Sep. 2020 Beta is battling a good amount of shear and dry air in the Gulf of Mexico which is keeping the intensity of the storm from increasing. Kelly Murray, Allison Chinchar And Haley Brink, CNN, "Tropical Storm Beta puts over 10 million people under tropical storm warnings," 20 Sep. 2020 That shear could push a lot of its heaviest rain and storms far to the east of the center, according to forecasters. Leigh Morgan, al, "Tropical Storm Zeta: What can Alabama expect?," 26 Oct. 2020 Wind shear -- the changing of wind speed and direction with height -- and dry air could limit hurricane growth. Judson Jones, CNN, "Tropical Storm Delta could hit the US as a hurricane this week," 5 Oct. 2020 That's not to say that #Delta will follow suit but the water in this area is hot and deep, and shear is relaxing under the UL ridge. Jeff Berardelli, CBS News, "Hurricane Delta bears striking resemblance to Wilma, the Atlantic's most intense hurricane on record," 8 Oct. 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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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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