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

  • transitive v. To swerve or cause to swerve from a course.
  • n. A swerving or deviating course.
  • n. Nautical The upward curve or amount of upward curve of the longitudinal lines of a ship's hull as viewed from the side.
  • n. Nautical The position in which a ship at anchor is maintained in order to keep it clear of the anchor.
  • adj. Thin, fine, and transparent: sheer curtains; sheer chiffon. See Synonyms at airy.
  • adj. Completely such, without qualification or exception: sheer stupidity; sheer happiness.
  • adj. Free from admixture or adulterants; unmixed: sheer alcohol. See Synonyms at pure.
  • adj. Considered or operating apart from anything else: got the job through sheer persistence.
  • adj. Almost perpendicular; steep: sheer rock cliffs. See Synonyms at steep1.
  • adv. Almost perpendicularly.
  • adv. Completely; altogether.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Very thin or transparent.
  • adj. Pure; unmixed; being only what it seems to be.
  • adj. Very steep; almost vertical or perpendicular.
  • adj. Used to emphasize the amount or degree of something.
  • adv. clean; quite; at once.
  • n. The curve of the main deck or gunwale from bow to stern.
  • n. An abrupt swerve from the course of a ship.
  • v. To swerve from a course.
  • v. To shear.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Bright; clear; pure; unmixed.
  • adj. Very thin or transparent; -- applied to fabrics.
  • adj. Being only what it seems to be; obvious; simple; mere; downright.
  • adj. Stright up and down; vertical; prpendicular.
  • adv. Clean; quite; at once.
  • n.
  • n. The longitudinal upward curvature of the deck, gunwale, and lines of a vessel, as when viewed from the side.
  • n. The position of a vessel riding at single anchor and swinging clear of it.
  • n. A turn or change in a course.
  • n. Shears See Shear.
  • intransitive v. To decline or deviate from the line of the proper course; to turn aside; to swerve.
  • transitive v. To shear.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pure; clear; bright; shining.
  • Uncombined with anything else; simple; mere; bare; by itself.
  • Absolute; utter; downright: as, sheer nonsense or ignorance; sheer waste; sheer stupidity.
  • Straight up or straight down; perpendicular; precipitous; unobstructed: as, a sheer descent.
  • Very thin and delicate; diaphanous: especially said of cambric or muslin.
  • Quite; right; straight; clean.
  • To make pure; clear; purify.
  • An obsolete spelling of shear.
  • Nautical, to swerve or deviate from a line or course; turn aside or away, as for the purpose of avoiding collision or other danger: as, to sheer off from a rock.
  • n. The rise from a horizontal plane of the longitudinal lines of a ship as seen in looking along its side.
  • n. The position in which a ship at single anchor is placed to keep her clear of the anchor.
  • n. The paint-strake or sheer-strake of a vessel.
  • n. A curving course or sweep; a deviation or divergence from a particular course.
  • n. A light scaffold, usually with three inclined legs, on which miners stand in drilling to get above the drill-rod.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. so thin as to transmit light
  • adj. very steep; having a prominent and almost vertical front
  • adv. directly
  • adj. complete and without restriction or qualification; sometimes used informally as intensifiers
  • v. cause to sheer
  • adv. straight up or down without a break
  • v. turn sharply; change direction abruptly
  • adj. not mixed with extraneous elements


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

Probably partly from Low German scheren, to move to and fro (said of boats), and partly from Dutch scheren, to withdraw.
Obsolete shere, thin, clear, partly from Middle English shir, bright, clear (from Old English scīr) and partly from Middle English skir, bright, clean (from Old Norse skærr).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old Norse skírr ("pure, bright, clear"), cognate with Danish skær, German schier ("sheer"), Dutch schier ("almost"), Gothic 𐍃𐌺𐌴𐌹𐍂𐍃 (skeirs, "clear, lucid"). Outside Germanic, cognate to Albanian hirrë ("whey, serum").


  • Callie walked slowly in a direct line to her mother, her hands on her hips, her expression sheer disappointment.

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  • Ambinder also mentioned what he described as sheer coincidence, that he himself got married in the District last weekend to his longtime partner, a business consultant.

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  • Now that's what I call sheer perfection : Thanks for the recipe, Nandita!

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  • We don't have a lot of what we call sheer in the atmosphere, either.

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  • There you can see what we call a sheer marker where that little spin is.

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  • The Messenger Bag Director's Chair is what you call sheer portability, if not innovation.

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  • On the one hand, Mr. Wood wrote, it allowed the writer to “revel in sheer storytelling,” and on the other to “undermine, ironically, the very ‘truths’ and simplicities his apparently unsophisticated narrators traded in.”

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  • Later, after they had picked up their children at nursery school and taken them home to nap, two of the women cried, in sheer relief, just to know they were not alone.

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  • Being pushed up against the stage by a mass of huge, fist-pumping 45-year-old man-metalheads bellowing in sheer joy at the mindblowing amazement that is Gigi Gleason (pictured) was, like, life-altering.

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  • Bella's tragic expression vanished, and she laughed outright in sheer genuineness of mirthful recollection.



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  • "See cut under forebody." --Cent. Dict.

    September 10, 2012

  • 3. Shipbuilding. to give sheer to (a hull).


    4. a deviation or divergence, as of a ship from its course; swerve.

    5. Shipbuilding. the fore-and-aft upward curve of the hull of a vessel at the main deck or bulwarks.

    6. Nautical. the position in which a ship at anchor is placed to keep it clear of the anchor.

    December 24, 2008