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tear1 / te(ə)r/ • v. (past tore / tôr/ ; past part. torn / tôrn/ ) 1. [tr.] pull or rip (something) apart or to pieces with force: I tore up the letter. ∎  remove by pulling or ripping forcefully: he tore up the floorboards he tore off his belt Joe tore the sack from her hand. ∎  (be torn between) fig. have great difficulty in choosing between: he was torn between his duty and his better instincts. ∎  [tr.] make a hole or split in (something) by ripping or pulling at it: she was always tearing her clothes. ∎  make (a hole or split) in something by force: the blast tore a hole in the wall. ∎  [intr.] come apart; rip: the material wouldn't tear. ∎  [tr.] damage (a muscle or ligament) by overstretching it: he tore a ligament playing squash. 2. [intr.] inf. move very quickly, typically in a reckless or excited manner: she tore along the footpath on her bike. • n. 1. a hole or split in something caused by it having been pulled apart forcefully. 2. inf. a spell of great success or excellence in performance: he went on a tear, winning three out of every four hands. ∎  a brief spell of erratic behavior; a binge or spree: every so often she goes on a tear, walking around town and zapping people with orange spray paint. PHRASES: tear one's hair out inf. act with or show extreme desperation. tear someone/something to shreds (or pieces) inf. criticize someone or something forcefully or aggressively: a defense counsel would tear his evidence to shreds.PHRASAL VERBS: tear someone/something apart 1. destroy something, esp. good relations between people: a bloody civil war had torn the country apart. 2. upset someone greatly: stop crying—it's tearing me apart. 3. search a place thoroughly: I'll help you find it; I'll tear your house apart if I have to. 4. criticize someone or something harshly. tear oneself away leave despite a strong desire to stay: she couldn't tear herself away from the view.tear someone/something down 1. demolish something, esp. a building. 2. inf. criticize or punish someone severely. tear into 1. attack verbally: she tore into him: “Don't you realize what you've done to me?” 2. make an energetic or enthusiastic start on: a jazz trio is tearing into the tune with gusto. DERIVATIVES: tear·a·ble adj. tear·er n. tear2 / ti(ə)r/ • n. a drop of clear salty liquid secreted from glands in a person's eye when they cry or when the eye is irritated. ∎  a drop of such liquid secreted continuously to lubricate the surface of the eyeball under the eyelid. ∎  (tears) the state or action of crying: he was so hurt by her attitude he was nearly in tears sock puppets that moved Jack to tears. • v. [intr.] (of the eye) produce tears: she arrived in a fur coat, cheeks red and eyes tearing from the chill. DERIVATIVES: tear·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.