\ 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 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 The pressure can even shear off the hair cells lining the inner ear that are responsible for transforming vibrations into signals the brain interprets as sound. Michael Ciaglo, National Geographic, "From tear gas to rubber bullets, here’s what ‘nonlethal’ weapons can do to the body," 5 June 2020 Additionally, the cell responds to this attack by sending out a different enzyme to shear all the remaining ACE2 receptors off its surface. Megan Molteni, Wired, "Meet ACE2, the Enzyme at the Center of the Covid-19 Mystery," 1 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Wind shear is expected to increase on Wednesday and could stop Paulette’s intensification. Leigh Morgan, al, "Tropical Storm Paulette stronger, then there’s Rene and two other areas to watch," 8 Sep. 2020 Dorian’s new westward path guided into it an air of low shear, abundant atmospheric moisture and a very warm ocean. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "Hurricane Dorian destructive force still an enigma 1 year later," 1 Sep. 2020 Oil tends to lose viscosity from shear, which is the sliding motion in the tight clearances between metal surfaces,such as those found in bearings. Paul Weissler, Popular Mechanics, "How to Pick the Right Motor Oil for Your Car," 31 Aug. 2020 The combination of shear and instability was ideal for the formation of persistent, multicellular clusters. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, "How a flash flood engulfed Leesburg on Thursday night and the risk for more deluges today in the D.C. area," 7 Aug. 2020 Wind shear is forecast to increase some near landfall, so Laura could weaken slightly to a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall. Leigh Morgan, al, "Hurricane Laura path update: Laura rapidly strengthens and could become a Category 4," 26 Aug. 2020 Wind shear has prevented stronger storm formation, but officials warned in a 10 a.m. update that Marco could still bring heavy rain and high winds to parts of Louisiana. Della Hasselle | Staff Writer,, "River Parishes officials urge residents to 'remain vigilant' even as hurricane watch canceled," 24 Aug. 2020 Wind shear, which is a change in the wind’s speed and direction over a short distance, is critical in the formation of hurricanes. James Rogers, Fox News, "Tropical storm Marco sparks hurricane watch as it heads toward Louisiana, Laura also on its way," 23 Aug. 2020 Wind shear is the change of wind speed and direction at altitude, a phenomenon that tears storms apart. Max Claypool, Brandon Miller And Monica Garrett, CNN, "Atlantic hurricane season could break more records with multiple storms in the forecast," 18 Aug. 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

Last Updated

30 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 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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