Definition of shear in English:

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Pronunciation: /ʃɪə/


1 (past participle shorn /ʃɔːn/ or sheared) [with object] Cut the wool off (a sheep or other animal): Paul has never sheared a sheep before (as noun shearing) demonstrations of sheep shearing
More example sentences
  • One notable exception is that only women shear sheep and only men shear goats.
  • Consequently, the cost of shearing a sheep sometimes exceeds the price at which the wool can be sold.
  • ‘I would like to advise farmers who are shearing their sheep and goats to cover their livestock as it looks like we are going to have a cold winter,’ Greyling said.
1.1Cut off (something such as hair, wool, or grass), with scissors or shears: I’ll shear off all that fleece
More example sentences
  • When he rose it was to shear off all his hair, and to order to have all the ornaments in the city taken off the walls and the manes and tails of all the horses sheared as well.
  • It is one year and two days since I sheared my hair off.
  • The reason for the sharp is they shear the hair instead of splintering it.
1.2 (be shorn of) Have something cut off: they were shorn of their hair figurative the richest man in the US was shorn of nearly $2 billion
More example sentences
  • ‘We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom,’ he said in remarks that were shorn of all but the most glancing references to the dominant political issues of the day.
  • We were shorn of all our hair; you wouldn't have known your top from your bottom.
  • The new Commons will be smaller than the old 659-seat House, which has been shorn of 13 Scottish constituencies because of devolution.
2 (past participle sheared) Break off or cause to break off, owing to a structural strain: [no object]: the gear sheared and jammed in the rear wheel [with object]: the left wing had been almost completely sheared off
More example sentences
  • In race two he burst from ninth on the grid to hold an excellent third place before his gear change sheared off in a close tangle with second placed Rick Ellis, leaving him in fourth gear for the rest of the race.
  • The main landing gear had been sheared off and the nosegear was twisted, bent backwards and jammed into the fuselage aft of the wheelwell.
  • The original cornice was sheared off from the existing backup stone and replaced with new marble.


[mass noun]
A strain produced by pressure in the structure of a substance, when its layers are laterally shifted in relation to each other: the water from the upper source is emitted at the same speed as the main flow; there is thus no shear [as modifier]: aluminium is not very resilient to shear forces See also wind shear.
More example sentences
  • Neither the normal stress nor the frictional shear stress acting on the cone tip surface is uniformly distributed.
  • The application of a negative pressure could further increase shear forces resulting in lung damage.
  • A key element in these force and torque balances is the hydrodynamic shear force and torque that the cell experiences when stationary on a planar surface.


The two verbs shear and sheer are sometimes confused: see sheer2 (usage).



Pronunciation: /ˈʃɪərə/
Example sentences
  • People have always talked about their shearers coming here, but now we are bucking the trend.
  • The four shearers only have a few left in the yards.
  • A new ‘dead man’ switch in the handpiece used to shear sheep may start to reduce the injuries suffered by shearers.


Old English sceran (originally in the sense 'cut through with a weapon'), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German scheren, from a base meaning 'divide, shear, shave'.

Words that rhyme with shear

adhere, Agadir, Anglosphere, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hand-rear, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, volunteer, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

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