\ 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 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 Instead of poking fibers to the back, some people recommend snipping off the loose fibers, then shaving the fabric with a razor to shear off remaining frayed bits. Washington Post, 8 Mar. 2022 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Wind shear, dry air and Saharan dust have worked to keep disturbances in check through the early part of hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. Chris Perkins, Sun Sentinel, 24 June 2022 This is because of atmospheric shear — the difference between wind speed or direction near the surface of the Earth and higher in the atmosphere. Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2022 The spine may not become unstable and experience shear laxity during the training session. Greg Presto, Men's Health, 14 July 2022 Wind shear can be pernicious and disruptive to a tropical system, knocking it off-kilter and inhibiting its organization. Jason Samenow, Washington Post, 24 June 2022 In this case, however, 94L is nestled within a pocket of comparatively tepid shear, which has allowed for organization over the past few days. Matthew Cappucci, Washington Post, 24 June 2022 Wind shear can also let dry air into hurricanes that chokes them. Seth Borenstein, ajc, 28 May 2022 Wind shear can also let dry air into hurricanes that chokes them. CBS News, 28 May 2022 Wind shear could prevent or delay Agatha turning into a hurricane until later in the week. Chris Perkins, Sun Sentinel, 28 May 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.

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

26 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 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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