Sheer and shear are two words that have the same origin and sound but entirely different meanings. They are often confused with each other and used in a wrong way while writing. Here are a few easy meanings and examples of this pair of homophones to clear out the general confusion about their usage.
Shear as verb:
To cut or clip something from a whole object, the verb shear is used. Specifically shear is used when cutting of wool from sheep or any other animal is implied.
However, cutting of anything like grass, wool, hair etc. is called shearing. Shear is also utilized while describing a thing that broke off due to structural strain and pressure.
Shear as noun:
A strain produced by pressure in the structure of a substance, when its layers are laterally shifted in relation to each other is known as shear. The movement in the plates in the surface of the earth that causes them to change shape or break is also called shear.
The act of shearing i.e. cutting or clipping off is represented as shear (noun). The instruments usually scissors or clippers that are used to shear things are also known as shears.
Sheer as noun:
A fabric or article that is very fine, diaphanous and delicate is called a sheer. It is usually used to
signify a piece of cloth that is transparent and shiny.
The upward slope of a ship's lines towards the bow and stern is called a sheer. When someone or something suddenly deviate from its expected course or path it is knows as sheer. Sheer mostly describes the deviance of a ship from its course or the position of a ship riding to a singleanchor and heading towards it.
Sheer as verb:
The swerving or deviating of a ship or a boat from its usual course is referred to as sheer.
In this example, the Titanic deviated (sheered) from its expected pathway and ended up hitting
When someone avoids a certain situation or move away from a specific unpleasant subject, he/she is sheering away. It can be substituted by words like turn away, flinch, recoil or shy away, sheer is a very commonly mistaken word.
Here, the girl is trying to avoid the images in her mind that are unpleasant and make her feel uncomfortable by sheering away her mind from them.
Sheer as adjective:
An unmitigated, downright and pure response or expression of a person or an original situation is described as sheer.
When something is at a right angle to another thing or totally or partially perpendicular, it is known to be sheer. Sheer is especially used to describe the perpendicularity of walls and cliffs.
A cloth is defined as sheer which is gauzy, silky and fine.
Shear or Sheer:
When you clip off your hair with scissors, you shear (verb) it with shears (noun). When a boat changes its path in the water it sheers away (verb), and when you buy a fancy glossy cloth it is also sheer (adjective). So next time you come across any sheer make sure that you know the difference.