adjective, sheer·er, sheer·est.
- transparently thin; diaphanous, as some fabrics: sheer stockings.
- unmixed with anything else: We drilled a hundred feet through sheer rock.
- unqualified; utter: sheer nonsense.
- extending down or up very steeply; almost completely vertical: a sheer descent of rock.
- British Obsolete. bright; shining.
- clear; completely; quite: ran sheer into the thick of battle.
- perpendicularly; vertically; down or up very steeply.
- a thin, diaphanous material, as chiffon or voile.
verb (used without object)
- to deviate from a course, as a ship; swerve.
verb (used with object)
- to cause to sheer.
- Shipbuilding. to give sheer to (a hull).
- a deviation or divergence, as of a ship from its course; swerve.
- Shipbuilding. the fore-and-aft upward curve of the hull of a vessel at the main deck or bulwarks.
- Nautical. the position in which a ship at anchor is placed to keep it clear of the anchor.
- perpendicular; very steepa sheer cliff
- (of textiles) so fine as to be transparent
- (prenominal) absolute; unmitigatedsheer folly
- obsolete bright or shining
- steeply or perpendicularly
- completely or absolutely
- any transparent fabric used for making garments
verb (foll by off or away ( from ))
- to deviate or cause to deviate from a course
- (intr) to avoid an unpleasant person, thing, topic, etc
- the upward sweep of the deck or bulwarks of a vessel
- nautical the position of a vessel relative to its mooring
adj.c.1200, “exempt, free from guilt” (e.g. Sheer Thursday, the Thursday of Holy Week); later schiere “thin, sparse” (c.1400), from Old English scir “bright, clear, gleaming; translucent; pure, unmixed,” and influenced by Old Norse cognate scær “bright, clean, pure,” both from Proto-Germanic *skeran- (cf. Old Saxon skiri, Old Frisian skire, German schier, Gothic skeirs “clean, pure”), from PIE root *(s)ker- (1) “to cut” (see shear (v.)). Sense of “absolute, utter” (sheer nonsense) developed 1580s, probably from the notion of “unmixed;” that of “very steep” (a sheer cliff) is first recorded 1800, probably from notion of “continued without halting.” Meaning “diaphanous” is from 1560s. As an adverb from c.1600. v.1620s, “deviate from course” (of a ship), of obscure origin, perhaps from Dutch scheren “to move aside, withdraw, depart,” originally “to separate” (see shear (v.)). Related: Sheered; shearing. As a noun from 1660s.