\ 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

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 The three-person shearing team and volunteers would shear two alpacas at a time next to each other in the small barn, using a generator to power the clippers. NBC News, 18 July 2021 Gaglioti and his colleagues — including UAF’s Dan Mann and Greg Wiles of the College of Wooster in Ohio — used tree corers to learn when these trees died, which told them about how long ago the glacier advanced to shear the mighty stems. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, 17 July 2021 Alas, the audacious engineering feature that makes this possible—a 508-foot-tall concrete shear wall within the central tower that transfers its load to its neighbors—will never be seen by the public. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, 21 July 2021 Over the course of three days in late June, about 50 volunteers visited the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch in southern Colorado to help shear the alpacas. NBC News, 18 July 2021 That shear no doubt increased the tendency for these late cells to rotate. Washington Post, 2 July 2021 Its concrete piles, shear walls and columns with floors of horizontal concrete slabs represented what has been the gold standard of coastal construction for nearly 100 years. Kobi Karp, CNN, 25 June 2021 The structural failure appears to have happened at the core of the building, where the horizontal concrete slabs meet the vertical concrete columns and shear walls, which are designed to resist lateral forces. Kobi Karp, CNN, 25 June 2021 Walk&Talk is set against São Miguel’s volcanic mountains, waterfalls, lush greenery, shear ocean cliffs and crashing waves. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun While the trough is expected to head northeast toward Florida, Gulf conditions don’t favor tropical development, with strong upper-level winds causing shear. Joe Mario Pedersen,, 7 Sep. 2021 Wind shear tends to rip apart those updrafts of hot air that are occurring because of the condensation of water vapor. Robin Lloyd, Scientific American, 31 Aug. 2021 In such a design, the bottom grid of rebar is more important for limiting the impact of punching-shear failure, experts said. Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2021 Wind shear is the foe of tropical storms and can tear them apart or keep them from intensifying. Leigh Morgan, al, 7 Aug. 2021 But the shear dissipated on Saturday, allowing the storm to assume a more regular spiral shape. New York Times, 29 Aug. 2021 Wind shear is preventing Henri from intensifying at the moment, the NHC said, but the wind should die down by Friday or Saturday, allowing Henri to surge in strength. Richard Tribou,, 19 Aug. 2021 The lack of shear is tied to rather weak winds in middle and upper levels of the atmosphere as the jet stream has migrated northward into Canada. Washington Post, 11 Aug. 2021 Wind shear is preventing Henri from intensifying at the moment, the NHC said, but the wind should die down by Saturday giving Henri the opportunity to surge in strength. Joe Mario Pedersen,, 18 Aug. 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

7 Aug 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for shear



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

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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