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tear apart

Upset or make distraught, as in The parents' divorce tore apart the grandparents. [ Second half of 1800s ]
Criticize severely, as in The professor tore her paper apart. [ Mid-1900s ]
Search some place completely, as in The police tore the house apart. [ Second half of 1900s ]
Separate, especially unwillingly, as in The war tore many families apart.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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  • Bake brown, tear apart while hot, and fill with fresh peaches crushed with sugar.

  • No animal could tear apart the bales, and, even in the severest storm, no water could reach them.

    The Secret Cache E. C. [Ethel Claire] Brill
  • Can one illume a leaden sky,Or tear apart the shadowy veil Thicker than pitch, no star on high,Not one funereal glimmer pale?

  • By raising my elbow to its original position, and using it as a lever, I could tear apart the crushed fibres.

    The Wild Huntress Mayne Reid
  • Under lateral pressure strata may fold to a certain point and then tear apart and fault along the surface of least resistance.

    The Elements of Geology William Harmon Norton
  • In every line it revealed a determined effort to tear apart the great trusts and to put all business on a competitive basis.

    History of the United States Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard
  • Say, round up the gang, will you, while I'm licking some of this stuff into shape for you to tear apart?

    Spacehounds of IPC Edward Elmer Smith

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