1

tear

verb \ ˈter \

Definition of tear

tore play \ˈtȯr\; torn play \ˈtȯrn\; tearing
transitive verb
1 a : to separate parts of or pull apart by force : rend
b : to wound by or as if by pulling apart by force : lacerate
  • tear the skin
2 : to divide or disrupt by the pull of contrary forces
  • a mind torn with doubts
3 a : to remove by force : wrench often used with off
  • tear a cover off a box
b : to remove as if by wrenching
  • tear your thoughts away from the scene
4 : to make (a hole or opening) by or as if by pulling apart by force
  • tear a hole in the wall
intransitive verb
1 : to separate on being pulled : rend
  • this cloth tears easily
2 a : to move or act with violence, haste, or force
  • went tearing down the street
b : to smash or penetrate something with violent force
  • the bullet tore through his leg

tearable

play \ˈter-ə-bəl\ adjective

tearer

noun
tear at
: to cause anguish to : distress
  • her grief tore at his heart
tear into
: to attack without restraint or caution
tear it
: to cause frustration, defeat, or an end to plans or hopes
  • that tears it
tear one's hair
: to pull one's hair as an expression of grief, rage, frustration, desperation, or anxiety; also : to feel or display such an emotion

Origin and Etymology of tear

Middle English teren, from Old English teran; akin to Old High German zeran to destroy, Greek derein to skin, Sanskrit dṛṇāti he bursts, tears

Synonym Discussion of tear

tear, rip, rend, split, cleave, rive mean to separate forcibly. tear implies pulling apart by force and leaving jagged edges.
    • tear up the letter
rip implies a pulling apart in one rapid uninterrupted motion often along a line or joint.
    • ripped the shirt on a nail
rend implies very violent or ruthless severing or sundering.
    • an angry mob rent the prisoner's clothes
split implies a cutting or breaking apart in a continuous, straight, and usually lengthwise direction or in the direction of grain or layers.
    • split logs for firewood
cleave implies very forceful splitting or cutting with a blow.
    • a bolt of lightning cleaved the giant oak
rive occurs most often in figurative use.
    • a political party riven by conflict

2

tear

noun \ ˈter \

Definition of tear

1 a : damage from being torn (see 1tear); especially : a hole or flaw made by tearing
  • mending a tear in her skirt
b : the act of tearing something
2 a : a hurried and violent rush : a tearing pace
  • the train went by at a tear
b : spree
  • got paid and went on a tear
c : a run of unusual success
  • the team was on a tear

Origin and Etymology of tear

see 1tear


3

tear

noun \ ˈtir \

Definition of tear

1 a : a drop of clear saline fluid secreted by the lacrimal gland and diffused between the eye and eyelids to moisten the parts and facilitate their motion
b tears plural : a secretion of profuse tears that overflow the eyelids and dampen the face
2 tears plural : an act of weeping or grieving
  • broke into tears
3 : a transparent drop of fluid or hardened fluid matter (such as resin)

tearless

adjective

Examples of tear in a Sentence

  1. And thus he would die—out in the cold world, with no shelter over his homeless head.  … And thus SHE would see him when she looked out upon the glad morning, and oh! would she drop one little tear upon his poor, lifeless form, would she heave one little sigh to see a bright young life so rudely blighted, so untimely cut down? —Mark TwainTom Sawyer1876

Origin and Etymology of tear

Middle English, from Old English tæhher, tēar; akin to Old High German zahar tear, Greek dakry


4

tear

verb \ ˈtir \

Definition of tear

intransitive verb
: to fill with tears (see 3tear) : shed tears
  • eyes tearing in the November wind
  • —Saul Bellow

Origin and Etymology of tear

see 3tear


TEAR Defined for Kids

1

tear

noun \ ˈtir \

Definition of tear for Students

1 : a drop of the salty liquid that moistens the eyes and the inner eyelids and that flows from the eyes when someone is crying
2 tears plural : an act of crying
  • I burst into tears.

2

tear

verb \ ˈter \

Definition of tear for Students

tore \ˈtȯr\; torn \ˈtȯrn\; tearing
1 : to pull into two or more pieces by force
  • This paper is easy to tear.
2 : to wound or injure by or as if by tearing : lacerate
  • Use an ointment where you tore the skin.
3 : to remove by force
  • I tore the notice from the wall.
4 : to move powerfully or swiftly
  • A car tore up the street.
tear down
: to knock down and break into pieces
  • The old school was torn down.

3

tear

noun \ ˈter \

Definition of tear for Students

: damage from being torn
  • This blanket has a tear in it.

Medical Dictionary

1

tear

noun \ ˈti(ə)r \

medical Definition of tear

1 a : a drop of clear saline fluid secreted by the lacrimal gland and diffused between the eye and eyelids to moisten the parts and facilitate their motion
b tears plural : a secretion of profuse tears that overflow the eyelids and dampen the face
2 : a transparent drop of fluid or hardened fluid matter (as resin)

2

tear

intransitive verb

medical Definition of tear

: to fill with tears : shed tears
  • my eyes sting and tear

3

tear

transitive verb \ ˈta(ə)r, ˈte(ə)r \

medical Definition of tear

tore play \ˈtō(ə)r, ˈtȯ(ə)r\; torn play \ˈtō(ə)rn, ˈtȯ(ə)rn\; tearing
: to wound by or as if by pulling apart by force
  • tear the skin

4

tear

noun

medical Definition of tear

: a wound made by tearing a bodily part
  • a muscle tear


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tear? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

ditzy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!