tear gas

1 of 2


: a solid, liquid, or gaseous substance that on dispersion in the atmosphere irritates mucous membranes resulting especially in blinding of the eyes with tears and that is used chiefly (as by the police and the military) to disperse large crowds of people


2 of 2


variants or tear gas or less commonly teargas
tear-gassed or tear gassed also teargassed; tear-gassing or tear gassing also teargassing; tear-gases or tear gasses also teargasses

transitive verb

: to use tear gas on
The troops then tear-gassed the crowd of several hundred, mostly teenagers and young men, which scattered in great confusion, but re-formed later.Roger Daniels

Examples of tear gas in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
On Tuesday, police used tear gas, detained a number of farmers and heavily barricaded border points to block the protesters from entering New Delhi. Krutika Pathi, Quartz, 13 Feb. 2024 President Macky Sall’s decision to delay the vote, originally scheduled for Feb. 25, sent hundreds of protesters to the streets over the weekend, many of whom were dispersed with tear gas, and prompted international calls for a timeline for elections to be held quickly. Rachel Chason, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 Israeli security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets at Palestinians gathered at the Beitunia checkpoint. Najib Jobain and Samy Magdy, The Christian Science Monitor, 25 Nov. 2023 Some 135 people were killed and hundreds more were injured in a crush as crowds rushed for the exits following a clash between fans and police that saw security forces fire tear gas within the stadium. Heather Chen, CNN, 30 Sep. 2023 For it, Duncan went to both conventions and was on the streets of Chicago amid the tear gas, although no image of it is found in this book. Darryl Levings, Kansas City Star, 26 Jan. 2024 Reuters reported that tear gas was used to disperse crowds outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 18 Oct. 2023 The gunshot and the tear gas immediately quieted the crowd. Sarah D. Wire, Los Angeles Times, 4 Jan. 2024 To keep the crowd at bay, a security official or Marine guard fired tear gas. Ian Shapira, Washington Post, 17 Dec. 2023
The authorities have blocked the social media accounts of some protest leaders and even used drones that were once billed as an agricultural innovation to drop tear-gas grenades on the demonstrators. Suhasini Raj, New York Times, 14 Feb. 2024 Outside Julia’s apartment, the detritus of protests littered the street—tipped-over trash cans, twisted metal barricades, expended tear-gas canisters. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024 Matter protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, and provided them with tips on dealing with tear-gas inhalation. Emma Green, The New Yorker, 15 Dec. 2023 Flooding, tear-gas, and other tools can also be critical when fighting in tunnels, basements, or interior spaces. David Kilcullen, Foreign Affairs, 23 Oct. 2023 Tensions surrounding Kashmir were particularly high at the time, following the death of a teenage boy who was hit with a tear-gas canister by Indian forces. Time, 11 Oct. 2023 But in a sign that the court order may only be a first step toward an easing of tensions, some celebrating protesters were later tear-gassed by officers. Shaiq Hussain, Washington Post, 11 May 2023 But to human rights advocates and demonstrators who were clubbed or tear-gassed, officers have overstepped their mission. Elaine Ganley, ajc, 3 Apr. 2023 Women were struck with batons, tear-gassed, arrested, and imprisoned even then, but the antipathy from men wasn’t so charged. Mira Sethi, The New Yorker, 21 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tear gas.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1916, in the meaning defined above


1918, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tear gas was in 1916

Dictionary Entries Near tear gas

Cite this Entry

“Tear gas.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tear%20gas. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
tear·​gas ˈti(ə)r-ˌgas How to pronounce teargas (audio)
: to use tear gas on

tear gas

2 of 2 noun
: any of various substances that cause eye irritation and blind the eyes with tears when released into the air and that are used mostly to scatter mobs

Medical Definition

tear gas

: a solid, liquid, or gaseous substance that on dispersion in the atmosphere irritates mucous membranes resulting especially in blinding of the eyes with tears

More from Merriam-Webster on tear gas

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