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Shear vs. Sheer

Shear and Sheer sound the same, but have different meanings and different spellings. In this article, you will learn the differences between these two confusing words.

3:10 min read
  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Her sheer hard work sheared all the obstacles in her way to success.

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.

Samantha has never sheared a sheep before.

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.

The gear sheared and jammed in the rear wheel.

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 water from the upper source is emitted at the same speed as the main flow; there is thus no 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.

Hand me the 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.

She bought a sheer dress.

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 known 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.

The boat sheer dropped to the sea in the storm.

Sheer as verb:

Shear vs. Sheer

The swerving or deviating of a ship or a boat from its usual course is referred to as sheer.

The Titanic sheered away and hit an iceberg.

In this example, the Titanic deviated (sheered) from its expected pathway and ended up hitting

the iceberg.

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.

She tried to sheer away her mind from the images she didn’t want to dwell on.

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.

She giggled with sheer delight.

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.

The sheer ice wall looked magnificent.

A cloth is defined as sheer which is gauzy, silky and fine.

The sheer white chiffon slipped away from her shoulder.

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.

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