If your curtains allow light to pass through, they're sheer, or see-through. Sheer can also describe something steep, like a cliff, or anything extreme, like sheer nerve.

This word has several meanings, but they're all extreme. You might want to layer a sheer shirt over a tank top. Climbing a sheer cliff is almost impossible. If your car sheers, it swerves sharply, and you might crash. Maybe you've met all these meanings in a single nightmare: When the sheer fabric blew over your face as you drove, you lost control and the car began to sheer, filling you with sheer terror as you went over the sheer cliff.

Definitions of sheer
  1. adjective
    so thin as to transmit light
    sheer silk stockings”
    synonyms: cobwebby, diaphanous, filmy, gauze-like, gauzy, gossamer, see-through, transparent, vaporous, vapourous
    of relatively small extent from one surface to the opposite or in cross section
  2. adjective
    complete and without restriction or qualification; sometimes used informally as intensifiers
    “got the job through sheer persistence”
    sheer stupidity”
    synonyms: absolute, downright, out-and-out, rank, right-down
    having every necessary or normal part or component or step
  3. adjective
    not mixed with extraneous elements
    synonyms: plain, unmingled, unmixed
    free of extraneous elements of any kind
  4. adjective
    very steep; having a prominent and almost vertical front
    “a sheer descent of rock”
    synonyms: bluff, bold
    having a sharp inclination
  5. verb
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
    synonyms: curve, cut, slew, slue, swerve, trend, veer
    see moresee less
    peel off
    leave a formation
    swerve off course momentarily
    type of:
    change orientation or direction, also in the abstract sense
  6. verb
    cause to sheer
    “She sheered her car around the obstacle”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    channelise, channelize, direct, guide, head, maneuver, manoeuver, manoeuvre, point, steer
    direct the course; determine the direction of travelling
  7. adverb
    “he fell sheer into the water”
  8. adverb
    straight up or down without a break
    synonyms: perpendicularly
Word Family

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