tear at


Also found in: Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Idioms, Encyclopedia.

tear 1

 (târ)
v. tore (tôr), torn (tôrn), tear·ing, tears
v.tr.
1.
a. To pull apart or into pieces by force; rend.
b. To cause to be pulled apart unintentionally, as by accident: tore my pants on the barbed wire.
c. To lacerate (the skin, for example).
2. To make (an opening) in something by pulling it apart or by accident: I tore a hole in my stocking.
3. To separate forcefully; wrench: tore the pipe from the wall.
4. To divide or disrupt: was torn between opposing choices; a country that was torn by strife.
v.intr.
1. To become torn: The fabric does not tear easily.
2. To move with heedless speed; rush headlong: tore off down the road; tore along the avenue.
n.
1. The act of tearing.
2. The result of tearing; a rip or rent: The shirt has a small tear.
3. A great rush; a hurry.
4. Slang A carousal; a spree.
Phrasal Verbs:
tear around Informal
1. To move about in excited, often angry haste.
2. To lead a wild life.
tear at
1. To pull at or attack violently: The dog tore at the meat.
2. To distress greatly: Their plight tore at his heart.
tear away
To remove (oneself, for example) unwillingly or reluctantly.
tear down
1. To demolish: tear down old tenements.
2. To take apart; disassemble: tear down an engine.
3. To vilify or denigrate.
tear into
1. To attack with great energy: tore into his opponent.
2. To begin to do or eat something with great energy: tore into the meal.
tear off Informal
To produce hurriedly and casually: tearing off article after news article.
tear up
1. To tear to pieces.
2. To make an opening in: tore up the sidewalk to add a drain.
Idioms:
on a tear
In a state of intense, sustained activity: "After the Olympics, Bikila went on a tear, winning twelve of his next thirteen marathons" (Cameron Stracher).
tear (one's) hair
To be greatly upset or distressed.

[Middle English teren, from Old English teran; see der- in Indo-European roots.]

tear′er n.
Synonyms: tear1, rip1, rend, split, cleave1
These verbs mean to separate or pull apart by force. Tear involves pulling something apart or into pieces: "She tore the letter in shreds" (Edith Wharton).
Rip implies rough or forcible tearing: Carpenters ripped up the old floorboards. Rend usually refers to violent tearing or wrenching apart and often appears in figurative contexts: The air was rent by thunder. The party was rent by factionalism. To split is to cut or break something into parts or layers, especially along its entire length or along a natural line of division: "They [wood stumps] warmed me twice—once while I was splitting them, and again when they were on the fire" (Henry David Thoreau).
Cleave most often refers to splitting with a sharp instrument: The butcher cleft the side of beef into smaller portions.

tear 2

 (tîr)
n.
1.
a. A drop of the clear salty liquid that is secreted by the lachrymal gland of the eye to lubricate the surface between the eyeball and eyelid and to wash away irritants.
b. tears A profusion of this liquid spilling from the eyes and wetting the cheeks, especially as an expression of emotion.
c. tears The act of weeping: criticism that left me in tears.
2. A drop of a liquid or hardened fluid.
intr.v. teared, tear·ing, tears
To become filled with tears: The strong wind caused my eyes to tear.
Phrasal Verb:
tear up
1. To have tears well in the eyes: At the funeral, the mourners began to tear up.
2. To cause to have tears well in the eyes: By the movie's end, the whole audience was teared up.

[Middle English ter, from Old English tēar; see dakru- in Indo-European roots.]
Translations

w>tear at

vi +prep objzerren an (+dat); he tore at the walls of his celler verkrallte sich in die Wände seiner Zelle; the thorns tore at her handsdie Dornen zerkratzten ihr die Hände
References in periodicals archive ?
Mink et al [19] found that ACL tear at the femoral attachment can be missed due to the partial volume averaging of the proximal ligament with the sagittal oriented medial face of the lateral femoral condyle.
Her prospective cohort study included 56 primiparous women, of whom 39 experienced a third-degree tear and 17 a fourth-degree tear at delivery.
[50] Elizabeth vocalizes Charles's swan song, a singing that is all the more striking given her paradoxical solitude and the continual references by Brantome to her "quiet and low sighing" and "secret tears." Elizabeth, we will recall, does not shriek and tear at her hair like other women.