American English

Definition of tear verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    see also tear2Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they tear
    he / she / it tears
    past simple tore
    past participle torn
    -ing form tearing
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  1. 1[transitive, intransitive] to damage something by pulling it apart or into pieces, or by cutting it on something sharp; to become damaged in this way synonym tear (something) (+ adv./prep.) I tore my jeans on the fence. I tore a hole in my jeans. He tore the letter in two. a torn handkerchief Careful—the fabric tears very easily. tear something + adj. I tore the package open. I tore open the package.
  2. 2[transitive] tear something in something to make a hole in something by force synonym The blast tore a hole in the wall.
  3. remove from something or someone
  4. 3[transitive] tear something + adv./prep. to remove something from something else by pulling it roughly or violently synonym The storm nearly tore the roof off. I tore another sheet from the pad. He tore his clothes off (= took them off quickly and carelessly) and dived into the lake.
  5. 4[transitive] to pull yourself/someone away by force from someone or something that is holding you or them tear yourself/somebody from somebody/something She tore herself from his grasp. tear yourself/somebody + adj. He tore himself free.
  6. injure muscle
  7. 5[transitive] tear something to injure a muscle, etc. by stretching it too much a torn ligament She tore a calf muscle playing squash.
  8. move quickly
  9. 6[intransitive] + adv./prep. to move somewhere very quickly or in an excited way He tore off down the street. A truck tore past the gates.
  10. -torn
  11. 7(in adjectives) very badly affected or damaged by something to bring peace to a strife-torn country a strike-torn industry see also war-torn
  12. Idioms
    be torn (between A and B)
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    to be unable to decide or choose between two people, things, or feelings I was torn between my parents and my friend.
    break/cut/tear (somebody/something) loose from somebody/something
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    to separate yourself or someone or something from a group of people or their influence, etc. The organization broke loose from its sponsors. He cut himself loose from his family.
    tear somebody/something apart, to shreds, to bits, etc.
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    to destroy or defeat someone or something completely or criticize them or it severely We tore the other team apart in the second half. The critics tore his last movie to shreds.
    tear at your heart, tear your heart out (formal)
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    to strongly affect you in an emotional way
    tear your hair (out) (informal)
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    to show that you are very angry or anxious about something She's keeping very calm—anyone else would be tearing their hair out.
    tear/rip the heart out of something
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    to destroy the most important part or aspect of something Closing the factory tore the heart out of the community.
    tear/rip somebody limb from limb (often humorous)
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    to attack someone very violently
    Phrasal Verbstear somebodyapart/uptear somethingaparttear at somethingtear somethingdowntear into somebody/somethingtear somebodyuptear somethinguptear yourself away (from something)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: tear