Definition of shear in English:



  • 1[with object] Cut the wool off (a sheep or other animal)

    ‘Paul has never sheared a sheep before’
    ‘demonstrations of sheep shearing’
    • ‘During its 1864 season 41,000 sheep were shorn, providing work for an army of musterers, shearers, woolclassers, packers and teamsters.’
    • ‘Farmers who want to employ someone to shear their sheep will have to seek permission from the Government's divisional veterinary manager.’
    • ‘Entrants in Geraldton Speed Shears had to demonstrate they could shear a sheep quickly and cleanly within a set time.’
    • ‘Consequently, the cost of shearing a sheep sometimes exceeds the price at which the wool can be sold.’
    • ‘When they arrived at Charlotte Waters it was time to shear the sheep, resulting in 200 bales of wool which were sent back by camel to Port Augusta.’
    • ‘The sheep are sheared and their wool sold; dogs, cats and rabbits provide a warm cuddle even while teaching responsibility.’
    • ‘Or they are removed from the wool prior to processing, once the sheep is shorn.’
    • ‘They came to get their passports stamped, for the entertainment, to see a sheep being shorn, throw a gumboot or three, place a bet on the Whanga Cup, brave a bath full of eels, and sample the local fare.’
    • ‘Often they are in partnership, and one of the reasons - apart from the fact that they both milk the cows and shear the sheep - is that they can income split.’
    • ‘Children looked on as farmers sheared sheep in less than five minutes, while parents picked up tips on how to look after unusual creatures from specialist groups such as Essex Beekeepers.’
    • ‘And wool prices are so low it no longer pays to shear the sheep.’
    • ‘And there was a man in Maon, whose possessions were in Carmel; and the man was very great, and he had three thousand sheep, and a thousand goats: and he was shearing his sheep in Carmel.’
    • ‘Romano-British innovations in land-use went hand-in-hand with new tools: shears also occur for the first time as new breeds of sheep are shorn rather than plucked.’
    • ‘Competitors are required to demonstrate they can shear a sheep quickly and cleanly within a set time.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘I'm no longer quite able to shear a sheep or crutch a ram or do as I used to, and it's foolish to think that you remain young forever.’
    • ‘In seconds the wound is closed, the rest of the sheep is shorn, and the bloody wool cast out a nearby window.’
    • ‘During the 1897 season more than 28,000 sheep were shorn at the Etadunna shed which had sixteen stands, eight for native shearers and eight for the whites.’
    • ‘Greyling said farmers who prefer shearing their sheep during winter should be ‘extremely careful’ this winter.’
    • ‘One notable exception is that only women shear sheep and only men shear goats.’
    1. 1.1Cut off (something such as hair, wool, or grass), with scissors or shears.
      ‘I'll shear off all that fleece’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘While he scrubbed himself from head to toe, she sheared his hair, leaving just enough in back to cover his branded neck.’
      • ‘This is not the kind of classroom where you can sit up the back and not be noticed - students are expected to know the entire process in shearing the wool and getting the product ready for market or export.’
      • ‘I've had my hair shorn that day and, with the barber's little razor cuts adorning my dome, I'm looking at my baddest.’
      • ‘She remains comically naive even when she is put in a straightjacket and has her hair shorn.’
      • ‘And as of today I have had my hair shorn down to a more manageable length again.’
      • ‘As his hair is shorn off, the young boy feels he is moving into a new stage.’
      • ‘The early settlers kept small flocks from which they sheared wool that was needed to clothe their families to protect them from the severe cold.’
      • ‘The reason for the sharp is they shear the hair instead of splintering it.’
      • ‘The price of wool is still very low and it still hardly covers the cost of shearing the wool off a sheep's back.’
      • ‘The uneven ends of her hair were shorn to a neat, straight line.’
      • ‘A young man, tan-skinned, with his hair shorn down to a round fuzz, opened the passenger door.’
      • ‘They went barefoot, their hair was shorn, and they each wore only a single garment.’
      • ‘The unsettling Self-Portrait with Braid was painted the year after Frida had shorn her hair following the divorce.’
      • ‘It was as if Garbo had shorn her hair and entered a nunnery.’
      • ‘‘We keep the rabbits, shear the wool off them and then knit the garments from the spun yarn,’ he said.’
      • ‘It made the whole venture seem like a device for the Big Three to shear the wool of suppliers, which, by the way, was fairly transparent to the supply community.’
      • ‘She alleged she was kept in solitary confinement on occasions, deprived of food and sustenance, had her hair shorn and was stripped of her clothes on a number of occasions.’
      • ‘Alex had spoken the truth - Drake had sheared his blonde hair to something that resembled Alex's hair cut, minus the spikes.’
      cut off, sever, saw off, chop off, lop off, hack off, dock, cleave, hew off, shear off, slice off
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Have something cut off.
      ‘they were shorn of their hair’
      figurative ‘the richest man in the US was shorn of nearly $2 billion’
      • ‘We were shorn of all our hair; you wouldn't have known your top from your bottom.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Norwegian royalty is shorn of regalia but is safety ensconced in respect.’
      • ‘It needs to be shorn of zingers and rage and allowed to make the point clearly.’
      • ‘His material is shorn of all excess baggage and his ability to lock on a small aspect of everybody's lives and turn it askew is priceless.’
      • ‘Never mind if the hill is shorn of dense greenery.’
      • ‘A bun sale has also been arranged and Years 5 and 6 teacher Andrew Suitor could be shorn of his locks during school assembly if the necessary £250 of donations is raised.’
      • ‘It is terraced and dotted with houses almost to the top, which is shorn of trees, revealing a red streaked rock that takes on a coppered hue in the setting sun.’
      • ‘After Waterloo, France was shorn of more territory, and had to pay an indemnity and suffer an army of occupation for five years.’
      • ‘After years of operating an autocratic regime, he faces the prospect of being shorn of his dominant position should the banks succeed.’
      • ‘Somehow, his voice has been shorn of its trademark vibrato and rendered unrecognisable.’
      • ‘Fran, in particular, is a monstrous delight; watching her being shorn of her lousy dreadlocks was laugh-out-loud schadenfreude television.’
      • ‘Rome has not been shorn of its potential for glory but Scotland must finish the championship on a high.’
      • ‘Ellipses must not be used to omit relevant material; interpolations must be aids to clarity of exposition and not editorial devices; passages must not be shorn of context that would alter their meaning.’
      • ‘The new Commons will be smaller than the old 659-seat House, which has been shorn of 13 Scottish constituencies because of devolution.’
      • ‘Their Marxism has been shorn of even the most basic understanding of historical materialism, of the progress of and changes to societies throughout the ages.’
      • ‘The Buildings Directorate, which once had responsibility for supervising the construction of prisons, housing and one-off buildings, helping ensure they did not waste money, was shorn of its role and its experienced operators.’
      • ‘For all intents and purposes he was a citizen, yet he was shorn of that margin of real initiative that determines the conditions of his existence, such as the right to act upon the political options of the nation.’
      • ‘His frames are bare, his narrative is shorn of pretension.’
      • ‘Without Ronaldo, United were shorn of a cutting edge.’
  • 2Break 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’
    • ‘Several hull plates buckled outward and sheared off completely, exposing the innards of the fiddleship.’
    • ‘The jury heard how a vital gearbox component had sheared off, possibly due to oil starvation, leading to a chain of events that saw the gearbox disintegrate and a bolt fired into a fuel tank.’
    • ‘The best tools, cutters that use square blocks as jaws, actually shear or break the bar, leaving the strength of the bars unaltered.’
    • ‘At the last moment possible, the shoe sheared off, narrowly missing my head, and instead contacting my left shoulder.’
    • ‘The historic election sheared off a thin facade of wartime national unity and reinforced ethnic and sectarian tensions that have plagued the country for centuries.’
    • ‘The main landing gear had been sheared off and the nosegear was twisted, bent backwards and jammed into the fuselage aft of the wheelwell.’
    • ‘Bulldozers had systematically sheared off one home after another between theirs and the border.’
    • ‘The original cornice was sheared off from the existing backup stone and replaced with new marble.’
    • ‘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 bow sheared off the wreck about 30m from the end, and slid down the slope to 45m where it now lies on its port side.’
    • ‘An accidental dropping of one magazine on the concrete floor of the indoor firing range sheared off a piece of plastic leaving the magazine in pieces, nonrepairable and unusable.’
    • ‘Most of the studs holding the cylinder on had sheared off.’
    • ‘The entire front part of the figure, including the hands and knees, has sheared off, but otherwise it is in excellent condition and is a rare example of royal sculpture of the later Twentieth Dynasty.’
    • ‘The witness further stated that the gear became stuck in the sand and was sheared off at the shock strut.’
    • ‘The truck, which was not overloaded, came to a stop after a front wheel sheared off.’
    • ‘This allowed it to swing down and strike the forward outflow valve and another fiberglass duct, which in turn sheared off the top of the vacuum pump.’
    • ‘A large part of one of its jumbo jet engines sheared off shortly after it landed at Manchester from New York.’
    • ‘The Lynx came down on its right-hand side, with the main rotor and tail sheared off by the impact and the cabin ablaze.’
    • ‘Thousands of gallons of water gushed over the top of the dam downstream of Jowler Mill, causing damage to the front of the dam as stones sheared off.’
    • ‘The grain structure of the metal is stretched and torn, not sheared off as it would be from a true detonation.’


  • [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’
    See also wind shear
    [as modifier] ‘aluminium is not very resilient to shear forces’
    • ‘Although greatly attenuated in shear zones, layers may still be continuous from footwall to hanging wall.’
    • ‘This means that, on the one hand, it depends on the polymer viscosity (and shear force) and, on other hand, it relates to the roughness of the metallic surface.’
    • ‘As noted, other extrinsic factors for skin injury are shear forces and friction.’
    • ‘Based on simple limit equilibrium and an elastoplastic interface shear relation, pull-out test results are predicted in terms of the relative interface bond resistances.’
    • ‘The application of a negative pressure could further increase shear forces resulting in lung damage.’
    • ‘The viscosity is defined as the ratio of shear stress to strain rate, and is thus a measure of the internal friction of a fluid: the more viscous a fluid, the more resistant it is to flow.’
    • ‘Hansen also notes that there can be significant wind loads in industrial projects, resulting in large shear and uplift forces.’
    • ‘Seismic down-hole tests were performed to measure the speed of compression wave and shear wave at different layers.’
    • ‘Pain can also limit the individuals ability to recognize new areas of discomfort that may be developing related to pressure, friction, or shear forces.’
    • ‘Friction and shear are mechanical forces contributing to pressure ulcer formation.’
    • ‘The shear for the entire structure was applied through the elevator shafts, so the connections and foundation support had to be solid.’
    • ‘Use proper positioning, transferring, and turning techniques to minimize skin injury caused by friction and shear forces.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Generally, the sand stiffness decreases by decreasing the effective confining pressure or increasing the shear strains.’
    • ‘Neither the normal stress nor the frictional shear stress acting on the cone tip surface is uniformly distributed.’
    • ‘A related question is why plate boundary faults are weaker - slipping with less shear stress - than faults in plate interiors.’
    • ‘A possible measure of drag is shear stress, but normal forces for inviscid flow can be viewed as responsible for most of the power loss.’
    • ‘Immobilization of a wound often reduces pressure and shear forces and reduces the number of cycles of injury to which the wound is exposed.’
    • ‘These cells are found in a mechanically active environment and are required to withstand shear stress, blood pressure, and changes in pressure due to breathing cycles.’
    • ‘The advantage of the new approach is that the elastic modulus associated with shear waves varies greatly between different types of tissue.’


The two verbs shear and sheer are sometimes confused: see sheer


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.