tear 1 of 2

as in slit
a long deep cut repaired a tear in the theater curtain just before the start of the show

Synonyms & Similar Words



2 of 2


Synonym Chooser

How is the word tear different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of tear are cleave, rend, rip, rive, and split. While all these words mean "to separate forcibly," tear implies pulling apart by force and leaving jagged edges.

tear up the letter

When could cleave be used to replace tear?

In some situations, the words cleave and tear are roughly equivalent. However, cleave implies very forceful splitting or cutting with a blow.

a bolt of lightning cleaved the giant oak

When can rend be used instead of tear?

While in some cases nearly identical to tear, rend implies very violent or ruthless severing or sundering.

an angry mob rent the prisoner's clothes

In what contexts can rip take the place of tear?

The meanings of rip and tear largely overlap; however, rip implies a pulling apart in one rapid uninterrupted motion often along a line or joint.

ripped the shirt on a nail

When is rive a more appropriate choice than tear?

The words rive and tear can be used in similar contexts, but rive occurs most often in figurative use.

a political party riven by conflict

When would split be a good substitute for tear?

The words split and tear are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, 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

Thesaurus Entries Near tear

Cite this Entry

“Tear.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/tear. Accessed 20 Apr. 2024.

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