shear, sheer

The words shear, sheer sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Why do shear, sheer sound the same even though they are completely different words?

The answer is simple: shear, sheer are homophones of the English language.

shear
  1. :: verb-transitive

    To remove (fleece or hair) by cutting or clipping.

  2. :: verb-transitive

    To remove the hair or fleece from.

  3. :: verb-transitive

    To cut with or as if with shears: shearing a hedge.

  4. :: verb-transitive

    To divest or deprive as if by cutting: The prisoners were shorn of their dignity.

sheer
  1. :: verb-transitive

    To swerve or cause to swerve from a course.

  2. :: noun

    A swerving or deviating course.

  3. :: noun

    Nautical The upward curve or amount of upward curve of the longitudinal lines of a ship's hull as viewed from the side.

  4. :: noun

    Nautical The position in which a ship at anchor is maintained in order to keep it clear of the anchor.

Definitions from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition and Wordnik.

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About Homophones

Homophones (literally "same sound") are usually defined as words that share the same pronunciation, regardless of how they are spelled.

If they are spelled the same then they are also homographs (and homonyms); if they are spelled differently then they are also heterographs (literally "different writing").