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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. Bright; clear; pure; unmixed. Sheer ale. Thou sheer, immaculate, and silver fountain. (Shak)

2. Very thin or transparent; applied to fabrics; as, sheer muslin.

3. Being only what it seems to be; obvious; simple; mere; downright; as, sheer folly; sheer nonsense. A sheer impossibility. It is not a sheer advantage to have several strings to one's bow. (M. Arnold)

4. Stright up and down; vertical; prpendicular. A sheer precipice of a thousand feet. (J. D. Hooker) It was at least Nine roods of sheer ascent. (Wordsworth)

Origin: OE. Shere, skere, pure, bright, Icel. Skrr; akin to skirr, AS. Scir, OS. Skiri, MHG. Schir, G. Schier, Dan. Skr, Sw. Skar, Goth. Skeirs clear, and E. Shine. See Shine.