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shear definition


This page has 17 definitions of shear in English. Shear is a verb, noun and adjective. Examples of how to use shear in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

See also: Shear



From Middle English sheren, scheren, from Old English sċieran, from Proto-West Germanic *skeran, 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.
  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 and/or speed.
    • 1985, 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.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Jamieson to this entry?)
  9. (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 Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.


shear (countable and uncountable, plural shears)

  1. A cutting tool similar to scissors, but often larger.
    Synonym: shears
  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




  1. Misspelling of sheer.