What does sheer mean?

Definitions for sheer

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word sheer.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. absolute, downright, out-and-out(a), rank(a), right-down, sheer(a)adjective

    complete and without restriction or qualification; sometimes used informally as intensifiers

    "absolute freedom"; "an absolute dimwit"; "a downright lie"; "out-and-out mayhem"; "an out-and-out lie"; "a rank outsider"; "many right-down vices"; "got the job through sheer persistence"; "sheer stupidity"

  2. plain, sheer, unmingled, unmixedadjective

    not mixed with extraneous elements

    "plain water"; "sheer wine"; "not an unmixed blessing"

  3. bluff, bold, sheeradjective

    very steep; having a prominent and almost vertical front

    "a bluff headland"; "where the bold chalk cliffs of England rise"; "a sheer descent of rock"

  4. diaphanous, filmy, gauzy, gauze-like, gossamer, see-through, sheer, transparent, vaporous, vapourous, cobwebbyverb

    so thin as to transmit light

    "a hat with a diaphanous veil"; "filmy wings of a moth"; "gauzy clouds of dandelion down"; "gossamer cobwebs"; "sheer silk stockings"; "transparent chiffon"; "vaporous silks"

  5. swerve, sheer, curve, trend, veer, slue, slew, cutverb

    turn sharply; change direction abruptly

    "The car cut to the left at the intersection"; "The motorbike veered to the right"

  6. sheeradverb

    cause to sheer

    "She sheered her car around the obstacle"

  7. sheer, perpendicularlyadverb

    straight up or down without a break

  8. sheeradverb


    "he fell sheer into the water"


  1. sheernoun

    The curve of the main deck or gunwale from bow to stern.

  2. sheernoun

    An abrupt swerve from the course of a ship.

  3. sheerverb

    To swerve from a course.

  4. sheerverb

    To shear.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Sheeradjective

    Pure; clear; unmingled.

    Etymology: scyr , Saxon.

    If she say, I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying’st rogue in Christendom William Shakespeare.

    Sheer argument is not the talent of the man; little wrested sentences are the bladders which bear him up, and he sinks downright, when he once pretends to swim without them. Francis Atterbury.

  2. Sheeradverb

    Clean; quick; at once.

    Etymology: from the adjective.

    Thrown by angry Jove
    Sheer o’er the crystal battlements; from morn
    To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
    A summer’s day; and with the setting sun,
    Drop’d from the zenith, like a falling star,
    On Lemnos. John Milton.

    The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite
    Descending, and in half cut sheer. John Milton.

    Due entrance he disdain’d, and in contempt
    At one slight bound high overleap’d all bound
    Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within
    Lights on his feet. John Milton.

  3. To Sheerverb

    I keep my birth-day; send my Phillis home
    At sheering-time. Dryden.


  1. sheer

    Sheer is an adjective that can generally refer to something extremely or utmost in degree, amount or intensity. It can also describe something complete and pure. In context, sheer is often used to describe materials that are thin and transparent like sheer fabric. Additionally, it may refer to a steep or abrupt surface of something like a cliff.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Sheerverb

    bright; clear; pure; unmixed

  2. Sheerverb

    very thin or transparent; -- applied to fabrics; as, sheer muslin

  3. Sheerverb

    being only what it seems to be; obvious; simple; mere; downright; as, sheer folly; sheer nonsense

  4. Sheerverb

    stright up and down; vertical; prpendicular

  5. Sheeradverb

    clean; quite; at once

  6. Sheerverb

    to shear

  7. Sheerverb

    to decline or deviate from the line of the proper course; to turn aside; to swerve; as, a ship sheers from her course; a horse sheers at a bicycle

  8. Sheernoun

    the longitudinal upward curvature of the deck, gunwale, and lines of a vessel, as when viewed from the side

  9. Sheernoun

    the position of a vessel riding at single anchor and swinging clear of it

  10. Sheernoun

    a turn or change in a course

  11. Sheernoun

    shears See Shear

  12. Etymology: [See Shear.]

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Sheer

    shēr, adj. pure: unmingled: simple: without a break, perpendicular.—adv. clear: quite: at once. [Ice. skærr, bright; Ice. skírr, A.S. scír.]

  2. Sheer

    shēr, v.i. to deviate from the line of the proper course, as a ship: to turn aside.—n. the deviation from the straight line, or the longitudinal curve or bend of a ship's deck or sides.—ns. Sheer′-hulk, an old dismasted ship with a pair of sheers mounted on it for masting ships; Sheer′-leg, one of the spars.—n.pl. Sheers, an apparatus for hoisting heavy weights, having usually two legs or spars spread apart at their lower ends, and bearing at their tops, where they are joined, hoisting-tackle. [Perh. Dut. scheren, to cut, withdraw.]

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. sheer

    The longitudinal curve of a ship's decks or sides; the hanging of the vessel's side in a fore-and-aft direction. Also, a fishing-spear in use on the south coast. (See SHEAR.) Also, the position in which a ship is sometimes kept when at single anchor, in order to keep her clear of it [evidently from the Erse sheebh, to drift].

Suggested Resources

  1. Sheer

    Shear vs. Sheer -- In this Grammar.com article you will learn the differences between the words Shear and Sheer.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. SHEER

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Sheer is ranked #31656 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Sheer surname appeared 730 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Sheer.

    93.5% or 683 total occurrences were White.
    2.7% or 20 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.6% or 12 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    1.2% or 9 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.8% or 6 total occurrences were Black.

Matched Categories

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sheer' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #4341

  2. Adjectives Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'sheer' in Adjectives Frequency: #587

Anagrams for sheer »

  1. sereh

  2. shree

  3. herse

How to pronounce sheer?

How to say sheer in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of sheer in Chaldean Numerology is: 2

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of sheer in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of sheer in a Sentence

  1. David Brown:

    Everybody can find their own Turner, he has so much to offer. It's the sheer color and excitement of the paint which people respond to.

  2. Joseph Addison:

    I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.

  3. Oscar Wilde:

    The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

  4. Johann von Goethe:

    God could cause us considerable embarrassment by revealing all the secrets of nature to us we should not know what to do for sheer apathy and boredom.

  5. David Brown:

    He has so much to offer. It's the sheer color and excitement of the paint which people respond to.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for sheer

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • transparent, bloß, schier, rein, pur, vertikal, steil, durchsichtig, hauchdünn, senkrechtGerman
  • escarpado, acantilado, muy delgado, fino, puro, vertical, transparenteSpanish
  • محضPersian
  • pystysuora, seitinohut, silkka, ohut, puhdas, äkkijyrkkä, pelkkä, harsomainen, suoraFinnish
  • reinurFaroese
  • transparent, pur, verticalFrench
  • croghManx
  • निराHindi
  • teljes, puszta, áttetsző, könnyű, merő, vékonyHungarian
  • puroItalian
  • טָהוֹרHebrew
  • 透明, 純粋Japanese
  • abruptumLatin
  • moteMāori
  • gjennomskinnelig, bratt, rett, ren, vertikal, ublandetNorwegian
  • recht, puur, klinkklaar, klaar, steil, flinterdunDutch
  • rein, ublandaNorwegian Nynorsk
  • czysty, urwisty, przezroczystyPolish
  • pura, fino, direto, puroPortuguese
  • sadeaRomanian
  • отвесно, настоя́щий, отве́сный, прозра́чный, вертика́льный, чи́стый, су́щийRussian
  • прозиран, proziranSerbo-Croatian
  • priesvitný, číry, čistýSlovak
  • சுத்தTamil
  • ince, safTurkish

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"sheer." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Oct. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/sheer>.

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    (used especially of glances) directed to one side with or as if with doubt or suspicion or envy
    • A. naiant
    • B. valetudinarian
    • C. numinous
    • D. askant

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