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sheer

1 [sheer]
adjective, sheerer, sheerest.
1.
transparently thin; diaphanous, as some fabrics: sheer stockings.
2.
unmixed with anything else: We drilled a hundred feet through sheer rock.
3.
unqualified; utter: sheer nonsense.
4.
extending down or up very steeply; almost completely vertical: a sheer descent of rock.
5.
British Obsolete. bright; shining.
adverb
6.
clear; completely; quite: ran sheer into the thick of battle.
7.
perpendicularly; vertically; down or up very steeply.
noun
8.
a thin, diaphanous material, as chiffon or voile.

Origin:
1175–1225; Middle English scere, shere, schere free, clear, bright, thin; probably < Old Norse skǣrr; change of sk- > s(c)h- perhaps by influence of the related Old English scīr (E dial. shire clear, pure, thin); cognate with German schier, Old Norse skīr, Gothic skeirs clear; see shine

sheerly, adverb
sheerness, noun


2. mere, simple, pure, unadulterated. 3. absolute, downright. 4. abrupt, precipitous. 6. totally, entirely.


1. opaque.

sheer

2 [sheer]
verb (used without object)
1.
to deviate from a course, as a ship; swerve.
verb (used with object)
2.
to cause to sheer.
3.
Shipbuilding. to give sheer to (a hull).
noun
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.

Origin:
1620–30; special use of sheer1; compare sense development of clear

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sheer1 (ʃɪə)
 
adj
1.  perpendicular; very steep: a sheer cliff
2.  (of textiles) so fine as to be transparent
3.  (prenominal) absolute; unmitigated: sheer folly
4.  obsolete bright or shining
 
adv
5.  steeply or perpendicularly
6.  completely or absolutely
 
n
7.  any transparent fabric used for making garments
 
[Old English scīr; related to Old Norse skīrr bright, Gothic skeirs clear, Middle High German schīr]
 
'sheerly1
 
adv
 
'sheerness1
 
n

sheer2 (ʃɪə)
 
vb (foll by off or away (from))
1.  to deviate or cause to deviate from a course
2.  (intr) to avoid an unpleasant person, thing, topic, etc
 
n
3.  the upward sweep of the deck or bulwarks of a vessel
4.  nautical the position of a vessel relative to its mooring
 
[C17: perhaps variant of shear]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

sheer
c.1200, "exempt, free from guilt," later schiere "thin, sparse" (c.1400), from O.E. scir "bright, clear," influenced by O.N. cognate scær "bright, clean, pure," from P.Gmc. *skairijaz (cf. O.S. skiri, O.Fris. skire, Ger. schier, Goth. skeirs "clean, pure"), perhaps from PIE base *skai- "to shine"
(see shine). Sense of "absolute, utter" (sheer nonsense) developed 1580s; that of "very steep" (sheer cliff) is first recorded 1800.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Kitchen sheers help to cut through the tough tissue which can then be peeled back and torn away from the inner membrane.
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