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tear apart

1

Upset or make distraught, as in The parents' divorce tore apart the grandparents. [Second half of 1800s]

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2

Criticize severely, as in The professor tore her paper apart. [Mid-1900s]

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3

Search some place completely, as in The police tore the house apart. [Second half of 1900s]

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4

Separate, especially unwillingly, as in The war tore many families apart.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.