from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To remove (fleece or hair) by cutting or clipping.
  • intransitive verb To remove the hair or fleece from.
  • intransitive verb To cut with or as if with shears.
  • intransitive verb To divest or deprive as if by cutting.
  • intransitive verb To use a cutting tool such as shears.
  • intransitive verb To move or proceed by or as if by cutting.
  • intransitive verb Physics To become deformed by shear force.
  • noun A pair of scissors.
  • noun Any of various implements or machines that cut with a scissorlike action.
  • noun The act, process, or result of shearing, especially when used to indicate a sheep's age.
  • noun Something cut off by shearing.
  • noun An apparatus used to lift heavy weights, consisting of two or more spars joined at the top and spread at the base, the tackle being suspended from the top.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To cut; specifically, to clip or cut with a. sharp instrument, as a knife, but especially with shears, scissors, or the like: as, to shear sheep; to shear cloth (that is, to clip the nap).
  • To clip off; remove by clipping: as, to shear a fleece.
  • To fleece; strip bare, especially by swindling or sharp practice.
  • To shave.
  • To cut down or reap with a sickle or knife: as, to shear grain.
  • To make or produce by cutting.
  • To produce a shear in. See shear, n., 3.
  • To cut; cut, penetrate, or divide something with a sweeping motion.
  • In mining, to make a vertical cut in the coal, or a cut at right angles to that made in “holing.” See hole, transitive verb, 3.
  • To receive a strain of the kind called a shear. See shear, n., 3.
  • noun A shearing or clipping: used in stating the age of sheep: as, a sheep of one shear, a two-shear sheep (that is, a sheep one or two years old), in allusion to the yearly shearing.
  • noun A barbed fish-spear with several prongs.
  • noun A strain consisting of a compression in one direction with an elongation in the same ratio in a direction perpendicular to the first.
  • noun Deflection or deviation from the straight; curve or sweep; sheer: as, the shear of a boat.
  • noun In practical mech., a twofold doubling and welding.
  • An obsolete form of sheer.
  • noun Deflection or deviation from the straight; curve or sweep; sheer: as, the shear of a boat.
  • noun In geology, the attenuation or actual rupture of a mass of rock by a compressive strain, especially by one applied transversely to the bedding or foliation. It results in dragging out the component minerals into thin bands and, it may be, in rupturing their former continuity.
  • noun Same as shears.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To deviate. See sheer.
  • intransitive verb (Engin.) To become more or less completely divided, as a body under the action of forces, by the sliding of two contiguous parts relatively to each other in a direction parallel to their plane of contact.
  • noun A pair of shears; -- now always used in the plural, but formerly also in the singular. See shears.
  • noun A shearing; -- used in designating the age of sheep.
  • noun (Engin.) An action, resulting from applied forces, which tends to cause two contiguous parts of a body to slide relatively to each other in a direction parallel to their plane of contact; -- also called shearing stress, and tangential stress.
  • noun (Mech.) A strain, or change of shape, of an elastic body, consisting of an extension in one direction, an equal compression in a perpendicular direction, with an unchanged magnitude in the third direction.
  • noun one of the blades of shears or a shearing machine.
  • noun See under Hulk.
  • noun a steel suitable for shears, scythes, and other cutting instruments, prepared from fagots of blistered steel by repeated heating, rolling, and tilting, to increase its malleability and fineness of texture.
  • transitive verb To cut, clip, or sever anything from with shears or a like instrument.
  • transitive verb To separate or sever with shears or a similar instrument; to cut off; to clip (something) from a surface.
  • transitive verb Scot. To reap, as grain.
  • transitive verb Fig.: To deprive of property; to fleece.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English scheren, from Old English sceran; see sker- in Indo-European roots. N., from Middle English shere, from Old English scēar; see sker- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English scieran, from Proto-Germanic *skeranan, from Proto-Indo-European *ker-, *sker-. Cognate with Dutch scheren, German scheren, Norwegian skjære, Swedish skära; and (from Indo-European) with Ancient Greek κείρω (keirō, "I cut off"), Latin caro ("flesh"), Albanian harr ("to cut, to mow"), Lithuanian skìrti ("separate"), Welsh ysgar ("separate").


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