shear

1 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
a
: 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 hopeM. W. Browne
4
a
: 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
shearer noun

shear

2 of 2

noun

1
a(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
3
a
: 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

Example Sentences

Verb The farmers sheared the sheep. The farmers sheared the wool from the sheep.
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
In an earthquake, P waves — or compressional waves — arrive first but usually don’t cause much damage; they’re followed by the S wave, or shear wave. Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2022 This weekend, John will lead the Baltimore Ravens into FirstEnergy Stadium hoping to shear the last shred of the Browns’ playoff hopes. cleveland, 16 Dec. 2022 Every romance requires an obstacle—something to block a couple’s path to happiness and shear them off from regular society. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2022 There are signs that shear should abate over the next 24 to 36 hours, which would allow Julia to take advantage of warm Caribbean Sea surface temperatures and intensify. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2022 To encourage bushiness, shear lightly in spring before buds set, or for winter-blooming types, after the flowers have faded. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 22 Sep. 2022 Masterful herders, who offer generations worth of skill, use a combing technique to shear the undercoat, delicately done by hand. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 21 Apr. 2022 The setup today features a volatile combination of an unstable air mass, abundant moisture, increasing winds with altitude, or shear, and several mechanisms to lift the air. Jeff Halverson, Washington Post, 2 June 2022 But on Wednesday night, those Mach-one speeds tended to shear off the symphony’s character — especially in the Andante, which had little of the movement’s familiar pliancy and lackadaisical levity. Hannah Edgar, Chicago Tribune, 16 June 2022
Noun
The end-effectors are designed with features meant to accommodate surface irregularities in macroscale form, mesoscale waviness, and microscale roughness, achieving good shear adhesion on surfaces with little gripping force. IEEE Spectrum, 23 Jan. 2023 Wind shear in the Gulf of Mexico and southwest Atlantic could limit strengthening of the system. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2022 Researchers have also pointed to the large low shear velocity provinces, or superplumes, that reside within Earth’s deep mantle as being possible helium-3 reserves. Connor Lynch, Discover Magazine, 20 Apr. 2022 For some experts, this photo suggested punching shear failure because the columns are mostly intact. Washington Post, 29 June 2021 The wind-shear phenomenon can occur in wispy cirrus clouds or even clear air near thunderstorms, as differences in temperature and pressure create powerful currents of fast-moving air. Audrey Mcavoy, Chicago Tribune, 19 Dec. 2022 Up-close views of Typton carneus's shear-like tools. Joseph Castro, Discover Magazine, 1 Aug. 2011 Julia was working to fend off shear, or a disruptive change of wind speed and/or direction with height. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2022 That alone will be a huge project: removing asbestos and other hazardous materials, upgrading electrical and water systems, installing air conditioning and fire sprinklers, restoring inoperative elevators and building seismic shear walls. Los Angeles Times, 27 Nov. 2022 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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near shear

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/shear. Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

shear

1 of 2 verb
sheared; sheared or shorn ˈshō(ə)rn How to pronounce shear (audio)
ˈshȯ(ə)rn
; shearing
1
: to cut the hair or wool from
shearing sheep
2
: to deprive of by or as if by cutting off
shorn of power
3
: to become divided under the action of a shear
the bolt may shear off
shearer noun

shear

2 of 2 noun
1
a
: a cutting tool similar or identical to a pair of scissors but typically larger
usually used in plural
b
: any of various cutting tools or machines operating by the action of opposed cutting edges of metal
usually used in plural
2
: an action or force that causes or tends to cause two parts of a body to slide on each other in a direction parallel to their plane of contact

More from Merriam-Webster on shear

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?

PLAY