\ 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 Experimenting with skis, Bcomp initially worked with flax fibers to reinforce the balsa wood cores and improve shear stiffness to great success. Nargess Banks, Forbes, "How Bcomp’s Sustainable Plant-Based Materials Are Challenging Carbon’s Performance," 5 May 2021 But those motion sensors can also be programmed to act as rudimentary seismometers, detecting the distinctive shaking caused by the pressure and shear waves of earthquakes. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "New Google effort uses cellphones to detect earthquakes," 28 Apr. 2021 This will further increase shear, to rather high values. Washington Post, "Severe thunderstorms possible in D.C. area Sunday for first time this year," 26 Mar. 2021 If the viscosity of some fluids diminishes in response to shear stress, are there other fluids whose viscosity increases? H. Joachim Schlichting, Scientific American, "Ketchup Is Not Just a Condiment: It Is Also a Non-Newtonian Fluid," 12 Mar. 2021 Or a tighter, more sheared look like Hebe ‘Red Edge,’ a variety that’s reliably hardy here, and keeps that tight form without needing to shear? oregonlive, "Plant it and forget it: Low effort ways to be surrounded by greenery," 23 Feb. 2021 Trim or shear heather when bloom period is finished. oregonlive, "Oregon gardeners, here’s your March guide to planting and planning," 1 Mar. 2021 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Although Monday featured strong shear, the instability was marginal. Washington Post, "Tornadic storm tears through West Virginia and parts of northern Maryland: How it happened," 4 May 2021 Emeco technicians begin by cutting the chair’s 12 pieces from aluminum sheet and square stock (A) with an 8-ton power squaring shear and radial-​arm saws. Scott Suchman, Popular Mechanics, "The Unlikely Story of the World’s First Tactical Chair," 29 Apr. 2021 Continued low shear and excellent outflow will allow Surigae to thrive in the warm water that is running a few degrees above normal for this time of year. Taylor Ward, CNN, "Typhoon Surigae is rapidly strengthening and could move dangerously close to the Philippines," 16 Apr. 2021 Long-lived, intense thunderstorms are most probable when there is an optimum balance between buoyancy and shear. Washington Post, "Threat of thunderstorms with damaging winds in D.C. area on Sunday," 27 Mar. 2021 Wind shear, or the changing of wind speed and direction with height in the atmosphere, has been very low. Taylor Ward, CNN, "Typhoon Surigae is rapidly strengthening and could move dangerously close to the Philippines," 16 Apr. 2021 While initially weak, mid-level winds should strengthen by early/mid-evening and contribute to upwards of 30-40 kt effective shear. Todd Nelson, Star Tribune, "Record Warmth Today; Followed By PM Severe Threat," 5 Apr. 2021 And with the intense shear, small areas of rotation may evolve within storm segments. Washington Post, "Threat of thunderstorms with damaging winds in D.C. area on Sunday," 27 Mar. 2021 The large low-shear velocity provinces (LLSVPs), as seismologists call them, might simply have crystallized out of the depths of Earth’s primordial magma ocean. Paul Voosen, Science | AAAS, "Remains of impact that created the Moon may lie deep within Earth," 23 Mar. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for shear

Last Updated

15 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Shear.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

Comments on shear

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