• (RP) IPA: /ˈʃɪə/
  • (America) IPA: /ʃɪɹ/

sheer (comparative sheerer, superlative sheerest)

  1. (textiles) Very thin or transparent.
    Her light, sheer dress caught everyone’s attention.
  2. (obsolete) Pure in composition; unmixed; unadulterated.
    • circa 1592 William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Induction, scene ii:
      If she say I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying’st knave in Christendom.
    • circa 1595 William Shakespeare, King Richard the Second, Act V, scene iii:
      Thou sheer, immaculate and silver fountain, / From when this stream through muddy passages / Hath held his current and defiled himself!
  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 […] .
  4. Used to emphasize the amount or degree of something.
    • 2012 October 31, David M. Halbfinger, "," New York Times (retrieved 31 October 2012):
      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.
    The army's sheer size made it impossible to resist.
  5. Very steep; almost vertical or perpendicular.
    It was a sheer drop of 180 feet.
Synonyms Translations Translations
  • French: pur
  • Italian: vero e proprio
  • Russian: по́лный
Translations Translations Adverb


  1. (archaic) Clean; quite; at once.

sheer (plural sheers)

  1. A sheer curtain or fabric.
    Use sheers to maximize natural light.

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.

sheer (sheers, present participle sheering; past and past participle sheered)

  1. (chiefly, nautical) To swerve from a course.
    A horse sheers at a bicycle.
    • 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 1042815524 ↗, part II:
      I sheered her well inshore—the water being deepest near the bank, as the sounding–pole informed me.
  2. (obsolete) To shear.
  • Russian: отклоня́ться от курс

Proper noun
  1. Surname

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