See also: Sheer and sheer-

English edit

Pronunciation edit

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Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English shere, scheere, schere, skere, from Old English sċǣre (pure, sheer; shining, clear), from Proto-Germanic *skairiz; supplanted the semantically close shire (dialectal), from Middle English schyre, schire, shire, shir, from Old English sċīr (clear, bright; brilliant, gleaming, shining, splendid, resplendent; pure), beside which existed Middle English skyr, from Old Norse skírr (pure, bright, clear),[1] both from Proto-Germanic *skīriz (pure, sheer), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)ḱeh₁y- (luster, gloss, shadow).

Cognate with Danish skær, German schier (sheer), Dutch schier (almost), Gothic 𐍃𐌺𐌴𐌹𐍂𐍃 (skeirs, clear, lucid). Outside Germanic, cognate to Albanian hir (grace, beauty; goodwill).

Adjective edit

sheer (comparative sheerer or more sheer, superlative sheerest or most sheer)

  1. (textiles) Very thin or transparent.
    Her light, sheer dress caught everyone’s attention.
    • 1954, Alexander Alderson, chapter 17, in The Subtle Minotaur[2]:
      “She sheathed her legs in the sheerest of the nylons that her father had brought back from the Continent, and slipped her feet into the toeless, high-heeled shoes of black suède.”
    • 1966, James Workman, The Mad Emperor, Melbourne, Sydney: Scripts, page 53:
      She was cunningly dressed in a black, sheer gown with gold ornaments showing her figure to perfection.
  2. (obsolete) Pure in composition; unmixed; unadulterated.
  3. (by extension) Downright; complete; pure.
    I think it is sheer genius to invent such a thing.
    This poem is sheer nonsense.
    Through technological wizardry and sheer audacity, Google has shown how we can transform the intellectual riches of our libraries [] .
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter II, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
      That the young Mr. Churchills liked—but they did not like him coming round of an evening and drinking weak whisky-and-water while he held forth on railway debentures and corporation loans. Mr. Barrett, however, by fawning and flattery, seemed to be able to make not only Mrs. Churchill but everyone else do what he desired. And if the arts of humbleness failed him, he overcame you by sheer impudence.
    • 2012 July 15, Richard Williams, Tour de France 2012: Carpet tacks cannot force Bradley Wiggins off track[3], Guardian Unlimited:
      Cycling's complex etiquette contains an unwritten rule that riders in contention for a race win should not be penalised for sheer misfortune.
  4. Used to emphasize the amount or degree of something.
    The army's sheer size made it impossible to resist.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, “New Jersey Reels From Storm's Thrashing”, in New York Times, retrieved 20 September 2021:
      Perhaps as startling as the sheer toll was the devastation to some of the state’s well-known locales. Boardwalks along the beach in Seaside Heights, Belmar and other towns on the Jersey Shore were blown away. Amusement parks, arcades and restaurants all but vanished. Bridges to barrier islands buckled, preventing residents from even inspecting the damage to their property.
  5. Very steep; almost vertical or perpendicular.
    It was a sheer drop of 180 feet.
Synonyms edit
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Adverb edit

sheer (comparative more sheer, superlative most sheer)

  1. (archaic) Clean; completely; at once.
    • 1791, William Cowper, The Iliad of Homer, translation of original by Homer, Book XVI:
      Hector the ashen lance of Ajax smote / With his broad faulchion, at the nether end, / And lopp’d it sheer.
    • 1888, Francis Hastings Doyle, “Hylas”, in The Return of the Guards: And Other Poems, translation of original by Theocritus:
      Swift into the dark stream at once he fell, / As the red star at once falls swift and sheer / From sky to sea
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book I”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker []; [a]nd by Robert Boulter []; [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], →OCLC:
      Descending , and in half cut sheer
Translations edit

Noun edit

sheer (plural sheers)

  1. A sheer curtain or fabric.
    Use sheers to maximize natural light.
    • 1992, Tammy Young, Naomi Baker, Serged Garments in Minutes, page 22:
      Lightweight, tightly woven silkies, sheers, lingerie
Translations edit

Etymology 2 edit

Perhaps from Dutch scheren (to move aside, skim); see also shear.

Noun edit

sheer (plural sheers)

  1. (nautical) The curve of the main deck or gunwale from bow to stern.
  2. (nautical) An abrupt swerve from the course of a ship.
Derived terms edit
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Verb edit

sheer (third-person singular simple present sheers, present participle sheering, simple past and past participle sheered)

  1. (chiefly nautical) To swerve from a course.
    • 1899 March, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number MI, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, [], →OCLC, part II:
      I sheered her well inshore—the water being deepest near the bank, as the sounding–pole informed me.
    • 2018 October 17, Drachinifel, 15:10 from the start, in Last Ride of the High Seas Fleet - Battle of Texel 1918[4], archived from the original on 4 August 2022:
      Seydlitz correctly identifies the larger shell splashes as coming from the two "large light cruisers" at the rear, and takes aim. Moments later, Courageous sheers out of line, smoke and steam venting through a massive hole in her side, the shells having blasted right through whatever excuse for armor was present and detonated amidst the boiler rooms. She is doomed.
  2. Obsolete spelling of shear.
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Further reading edit

References edit

  1. ^ “Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[1], 2009 August 6 (last accessed), archived from the original on 11 November 2011

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Noun edit


  1. Alternative form of shere