Meaning of “sheer” in the English Dictionary

"sheer" in British English

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uk /ʃɪər/ us /ʃɪr/

sheer adjective (COMPLETE)

C1 [ before noun ] used to emphasize how very great, important, or powerful a quality or feeling is; nothing except:

The suggestion is sheer nonsense.
His success was due to sheer willpower/determination.
It was sheer coincidence that we met.

More examples

  • It was sheer chance that we met.
  • I've got where I am through sheer hard work.
  • My time in prison was sheer hell.
  • Words could not convey the sheer terror of the experience.
  • People danced in the streets out of sheer joy.

sheer adjective (THIN)

Sheer clothing or material is so thin, light, and delicate that you can see through it:

She wore a dress of the sheerest silk.

sheerverb [ I usually + adv/prep ]

uk /ʃɪər/ us /ʃɪr/

(Definition of “sheer” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"sheer" in American English

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us /ʃɪr/

sheer adjective (COMPLETE)

[ not gradable ] not mixed with anything else; pure or complete:

Some of those books are sheer magic.

sheer adjective (EXTREME)

[ not gradable ] (of size or weight) very large:

The sheer size of the engine makes it difficult to transport.

sheer adjective (STEEP)

rising almost straight up or down; very steep:

She hauled herself up the sheer slope of the mountain.

(Definition of “sheer” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)