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See also: Shear


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From Middle English sheren, scheren, from Old English sċieran, from Proto-Germanic *skeraną, from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ker- (to cut). Cognate with West Frisian skeare, Low German scheren, Dutch scheren, German scheren, Danish skære, Norwegian Bokmål skjære, Norwegian Nynorsk skjera, Swedish skära, Serbo-Croatian škare ("scissors"); 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.
    • 1819, Walter Scott, Ivanhoe:
      So trenchant was the Templar’s weapon, that it shore asunder, as it had been a willow twig, the tough and plaited handle of the mace, which the ill-fated Saxon reared to parry the blow, and, descending on his head, levelled him with the earth.
    • Shakespeare
      the golden tresses [] were shorn away
  2. To remove the fleece from a sheep etc by clipping.
  3. (physics) To deform because of forces pushing in opposite directions.
  4. (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.
  5. (Scotland) To reap, as grain.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jamieson to this entry?)
  6. (figuratively) To deprive of property; to fleece.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


shear (countable and uncountable, plural shears)

  1. A cutting tool similar to scissors, but often larger.
    • Dryden
      short of the wool, and naked from the shear
  2. The act of shearing, or something removed by shearing.
    • Youatt
      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.
  3. (physics) Forces that push in opposite directions.
  4. (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.
  5. (geology) The response of a rock to deformation usually by compressive stress, resulting in particular textures.

Derived terms[edit]




  1. Misspelling of sheer.