- a drop of the saline, watery fluid continually secreted by the lacrimal glands between the surface of the eye and the eyelid, serving to moisten and lubricate these parts and keep them clear of foreign particles.
- this fluid appearing in or flowing from the eye as the result of emotion, especially grief: to shed tears.
- something resembling or suggesting a tear, as a drop of a liquid or a tearlike mass of a solid substance, especially having a spherical or globular shape at one end and tapering to a point at the other: teardrop earrings.
- Glassmaking. a decorative air bubble enclosed in a glass vessel; air bell.
- tears, grief; sorrow.
- to fill up and overflow with tears, as the eyes (often followed by up): My eyes were tearing in the wind. He teared up when he heard the news.
- in tears, weeping: He was in tears over the death of his dog.
Origin of tear1
- to pull apart or in pieces by force, especially so as to leave ragged or irregular edges.
- to pull or snatch violently; wrench away with force: to tear wrappings from a package; to tear a book from someone's hands.
- to distress greatly: anguish that tears the heart.
- to divide or disrupt: a country torn by civil war.
- to wound or injure by or as if by rending; lacerate.
- to produce or effect by rending: to tear a hole in one's coat.
- to remove by force or effort: to be unable to tear oneself from a place.
- to become torn.
- to make a tear or rent.
- to move or behave with force, violent haste, or energy: The wind tore through the trees; cars tearing up and down the highway; I was tearing around all afternoon trying to find sandals for the beach.
- the act of tearing.
- a rent or fissure.
- a rage or passion; violent flurry or outburst.
- Informal. a spree.
- tear at,
- to pluck violently at; attempt to tear: She tore at the bandages until they loosened.
- to distress; afflict: remorse that tears at one's soul.
- tear down,
- to pull down; destroy; demolish.
- to disparage or discredit: to tear down one's friends behind their backs.
- tear into, Informal.
- to attack impulsively and heedlessly: He tore into the food with a will.
- to attack verbally: She tore into him for being late for dinner.
- tear off, Slang. to perform or do, especially rapidly or casually: to tear off a poem; to tear off a set of tennis.
- tear up,
- to tear into small shreds: He tore up the drawings because she had criticized them.
- to cancel or annul: to tear up a contract.
- tear it, Slang. to ruin all hope; spoil everything.
- tear one's hair, to manifest extreme anxiety, grief, anger, or frustration: I'm so upset, I could just tear my hair out.Also tear one's hair out.
Origin of tear2
Examples from the Web for tear
Sam watches her fall apart, tear herself apart and is desperate.Grief: The Real Monster in The Babadook
December 19, 2014
And then he went on a tear in early 2013, creating one provocation after another, seemingly every day for more than two months.Kim Jong Un’s Kid Gloves Are Now Off
Gordon G. Chang
December 17, 2014
As Kate was driven away, she appeared to wipe a tear from her eye.Tearful Kate Weeps After Meeting Mother Whose Baby Died
November 25, 2014
Many of those gathering in the run-up to the grand jury decision wore hockey and tear gas masks to conceal their identity.Justice Was Served in Ferguson—This Isn’t Jim Crow America
November 25, 2014
Another factor was that Hungary had already become the first East European Communist country to tear down their wall.How The Cold War Endgame Played Out In The Rubble Of The Berlin Wall
November 9, 2014
No one has seen him shed a tear, of heard him utter a complaint.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
Did you read my note--or did you tear it up like the other one?Viviette
William J. Locke
What could a heart then do but tear itself to pieces, think-thinking?Weighed and Wanting
Young Lady, who reads Dickens (wiping away the tear of imbecility).
At least I shall no longer have to tear my heart out, meeting Ned in her house.The Bacillus of Beauty
- a drop of the secretion of the lacrimal glandsSee tears
- something shaped like a hanging dropa tear of amber
- to cause (material, paper, etc) to come apart or (of material, etc) to come apart; rip
- (tr) to make (a hole or split) in (something)to tear a hole in a dress
- (intr often foll by along) to hurry or rushto tear along the street
- (tr; usually foll by away or from) to remove or take by force
- (when intr, often foll by at) to cause pain, distress, or anguish (to)it tore at my heartstrings to see the starving child
- tear one's hair informal to be angry, frustrated, very worried, etc
- a hole, cut, or split
- the act of tearing
- a great hurry; rush
- on a tear slang showing a sudden burst of energy
Word Origin and History for tear
"water from the eye," Old English tear, from earlier teahor, tæhher, from Proto-Germanic *takh-, *tagr- (cf. Old Norse, Old Frisian tar, Old High German zahar, German Zähre, Gothic tagr "tear"), from PIE *dakru-/*draku- (cf. Latin lacrima, Old Latin dacrima, Irish der, Welsh deigr, Greek dakryma). Tear gas first recorded 1917.
"pull apart," Old English teran (class IV strong verb; past tense tær, past participle toren), from Proto-Germanic *teran (cf. Old Saxon terian, Middle Dutch teren "to consume," Old High German zeran "to destroy," German zehren, Gothic ga-tairan "to tear, destroy"), from PIE *der- "tear" (cf. Sanskrit drnati "cleaves, bursts," Greek derein "to flay," Armenian terem "I flay," Old Church Slavonic dera "to burst asunder," Breton darn "piece").
The Old English past tense survived long enough to get into Bible translations as tare before giving place 17c. to tore, which is from the old past participle toren. Sense of "to pull by force" (away from some situation or attachment) is attested from late 13c. To be torn between two things (desires, loyalties, etc.) is from 1871.
1650s, mainly in American English, from tear (n.1). Related: Teared; tearing. Old English verb tæherian did not survive into Middle English.
"act of ripping or rending," 1660s, from tear (v.1).
- A drop of the clear salty liquid secreted by glands (lacrimal glands) in the eyes. Tears wet the membrane covering the eye and help rid the eye of irritating substances.
Idioms and Phrases with tear
In addition to the idioms beginning with tear
- tear apart
- tear around
- tear at
- tear away
- tear down
- tear into
- tear it
- tear off
- tear one's hair
- rip (tear) into
- wear and tear
Also see undertearstorn.