Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

sheer - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective sheer pronunciation in American English /ʃɪr/
  1. 1
    [only before noun] used for emphasizing the amount or degree of something

    Maya succeeded through sheer hard work.

    the sheer size/volume etc. of something:

    We were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work.

    sheer weight of numbers (=the simple fact of being much greater in number):

    In the end, they overcame the enemy through sheer weight of numbers.

    (by) sheer luck/coincidence:

    By sheer coincidence, we ended up working for the same company.

    sheer delight/joy/exhaustion etc.:

    He sat down and wept out of sheer joy.

  2. 3
    sheer cloth is very thin

Open Dictionary


the activity of exploring abandoned buildings and other manmade structures

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play