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See also: Shear


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From Middle English sheren, scheren, from Old English sċieran (to shear; to shave), from Proto-West Germanic *skeran, from Proto-Germanic *skeraną, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to cut).

Cognate with West Frisian skarre, Low German scheren, Dutch scheren, German scheren, Danish skære, Norwegian Bokmål skjære, Norwegian Nynorsk skjera, Swedish skära; and (from Indo-European) with Ancient Greek κείρω (keírō, I cut off), Latin caro (flesh), Albanian shqerr (to tear, cut), harr (to cut, to mow), Lithuanian skìrti (separate), Welsh ysgar (separate). See also sharp.



shear (third-person singular simple present shears, present participle shearing, simple past sheared or shore, past participle shorn or sheared)

  1. To cut, originally with a sword or other bladed weapon, now usually with shears, or as if using shears.
  2. To remove the fleece from a sheep etc. by clipping.
    shear the llamas
  3. To cut the hair of (a person).
    shear the afro off someone's head
  4. (physics) To deform because of forces pushing in opposite directions.
  5. (aviation, meteorology, intransitive, of wind) To change in direction or speed.
    • 1985 March 21, National Transportation Safety Board, “2.3 Airplane Takeoff Performance”, in Aircraft Accident Report: United Airlines Flight 663, Boeing 727-222, N7647U, Denver, Colorado, May 31, 1984[1], page 41:
      The total along-the-runway wind component sheared from an 8-knot headwind to about a 56-knot tailwind over a 44-second period.
  6. (mathematics) To transform by displacing every point in a direction parallel to some given line by a distance proportional to the point’s distance from the line.
  7. (mining, intransitive) To make a vertical cut in coal.
  8. (Scotland) To reap, as grain.
    • 1769, John Aldington, A Poem on the Cruelty of Shooting etc.:
      Soon as the bending Scythe,
      And Sickle keen, have shear'd the golden Grain,
      Array'd in all the Equipage of Death,
      Forth the stern Sportsman stalks
  9. (figurative) To deprive of property; to fleece.

Derived terms[edit]


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shear (countable and uncountable, plural shears)

  1. A cutting tool similar to scissors, but often larger.
    Synonym: shears
    • 1697, Virgil, “The Third Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC:
      short of their wool, and naked from the shear
  2. (metalworking) A large machine use for cutting sheet metal.
  3. The act of shearing, or something removed by shearing.
    • 1837, William Youatt, Sheep: Their Breeds, Management, and Diseases:
      After the second shearing, he is a two-shear ram; [] at the expiration of another year, he is a three-shear ram; the name always taking its date from the time of shearing.
  4. (physics) Forces that push in opposite directions.
  5. (aviation, meteorology) Wind shear, or an instance thereof.
    We hit a nasty shear on approach and had to go around.
  6. (mathematics) A transformation that displaces every point in a direction parallel to some given line by a distance proportional to the point’s distance from the line.
  7. (geology) The response of a rock to deformation usually by compressive stress, resulting in particular textures.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Misspelling of sheer.