Definition of tear verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//teə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ter//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they tear
    BrE BrE//teə(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ter//
    he / she / it tears
    BrE BrE//teəz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//terz//
    past simple tore
    BrE BrE//tɔː(r)//
    ; NAmE NAmE//tɔːr//
    past participle torn
    BrE BrE//tɔːn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//tɔːrn//
    -ing form tearing
    BrE BrE//ˈteərɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈterɪŋ//
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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 rip 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 rip The blast tore a hole in the wall.
  3. remove from something/somebody
  4. 3  [transitive] tear something + adv./prep. to remove something from something else by pulling it roughly or violently synonym rip 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/somebody away by force from somebody/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. See related entries: Injuries
  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. Word OriginOld English teran, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch teren and German zehren, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek derein ‘flay’. The noun dates from the early 17th cent.Extra examples He threatened to tear me limb from limb. His clothes were badly torn. One error and he would have been torn loose and hurled overboard by the squalling wind. Several pages had been torn out of the book. She tore her skirt on a nail. She tore herself free. She tore the label off the suitcase. She tore the letter open. She tore the piece of paper in half. The critics tore his last film to shreds. The fabric snagged and tore at the seams. A dog was tearing along the road beside the truck. He tore his clothes off and dived into the lake. He tore the package open. His jacket had been torn to shreds on the barbed wire. I felt like tearing my hair out in frustration. I tore a hole in my shirt. Our posters were torn down as quickly as we could put them up. Racial strife is tearing the country apart. She tore a page from her notebook. She’s torn a ligament in her right hand. The girls looked at each other and tore off towards the house.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 somebody/something from a group of people or their influence, etc. The organization broke loose from its sponsors. He cut himself loose from his family.
    (informal) safe; not damaged or hurt, especially after a journey or dangerous experience They were lucky to get home in one piece.
    1. 1very badly damaged synonym in tatters Her nerves were in shreds. The country's economy is in shreds.
    2. 2torn in many places The document was in shreds on the floor.
    tear somebody/something apart, to shreds, to bits, etc.
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    to destroy or defeat somebody/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
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    (formal) to strongly affect you in an emotional way
    (informal) 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.
    (be in) a tearing hurry/rush
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    (especially British English) (to be) in a very great hurry
    tear/rip somebody limb from limb
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    (often humorous) to attack somebody very violently
    tear somebody off a strip, tear a strip off somebody
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    (British English, informal) to speak angrily to somebody who has done something wrong
    (British English, informal) used to say that something has happened to spoil your plans
    Phrasal Verbstear somethingaparttear at somethingtear somethingdowntear into somebodytear up somebodytear somebodyuptear somethinguptear yourself away (from something)
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tear