According to Dictionary.com, shearing is a verb that refers to cutting through material with a sharp object. Though it is commonly associated with sheep and the harvesting of wool, the verb may also refer to the fracturing of a geological structure as a result of intense force.
The usage of the word dates back before the year 900. It is derived from the Middle English verb "sheren" and the Old English verb "sceran." Both of these forms are related to the Old Norse word "skera," which refers to the tool used to shear wool from sheep. The verb is directly related to the noun "shearing," which means the amount of wool taken from a sheep at one time.