sheer venom

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What does sheer mean in this context?

She was shocked at the sheer venom of her reply

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David L.

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nothing other than; unmitigated, pure venom.
It wasn't as if what was said, although painful, was something that had to be said with the aim of helping in some way. No - it was MEANT to hurt - pure venom.

or, if the reply was a comment or opinion about another person, then it was pure hate, total disdain for the person, with the words being like undiluted venom.
 
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jctgf

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nothing other than; unmitigated, pure venom.
It wasn't as if what was said, although painful, was something that had to be said with the aim of helping in some way. No - it was MEANT to hurt - pure venom.

or, if the reply was a comment or opinion about another person, then it was pure hate, total disdain for the person, with the words being like undiluted venom.

hi,
is it too formal to use it this way?
thanks.
 

jctgf

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The sentence as written would occur in normal adult conversation.

one more doubt, please:
there is also the word "mere" that could be used in place of "sheer" in this sentence, right?
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BobK

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It could be used in the same place, but it wouldn't replace it (like for like); it would modify the meaning. "Sheer", as David said, is unmitigated; "mere" is more depreciative. For example, "sheer stupidity" is nothing but stupidity but it's also absolutely/extremely stupid; "mere stupidity" is stupidity and nothing else. The two words occupy a similar semantic space, but they're not interchangeable.

b
 
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Thanks everybody for such quick replies. I didn't expect to find so many posts. ;-)

It could be used in the same place, but it wouldn't replace it (like for like); it would modify the meaning. "Sheer", as David said, is unmitigated; "mere" is more depreciative. For example, "sheer stupidity" is nothing but stupidity but it's also absolutely/extremely stupid; "mere stupidity" is stupidity and nothing else. The two words occupy a similar semantic space, but they're not interchangeable.

b

Thus, depending on context sheer may convey two different meanings: 1) absolutely/extremely (used to emphasize something) and 2) nothing else but; while mere can only convey meaning 1).
Did I get the point?
 

banderas

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Thanks everybody for such quick replies. I didn't expect to find so many posts. ;-)



Thus, depending on context sheer may convey two different meanings: 1) absolutely/extremely (used to emphasize something) and 2) nothing else but; while mere can only convey meaning 1).
Did I get the point?

you must have made a typo as mere can convey only meaning 2;-)
 
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you must have made a typo as mere can convey only meaning 2;-)

Ops...you're right. This raises another problem.
The definition given by my dictionary for mere is "used to emphasize that something is not large or important" which seems similar to meaning 1).
However, looking up mere on many on-line dictionaries I find that the actual meaning is 2) as you pointed out.
I think the definition given by my dictionary is a bit bewildering, although it is evidently intended to make it easier for learners to understand the meaning of the word.
 
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