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tear1 - definition and synonyms


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verb tear pronunciation in American English /ter/
Word Forms
present tense
present participletearing
past tensetore
past participletorn
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  1. 1
    [intransitive/transitive] to pull something so that it separates into pieces or gets a hole in it, or to become damaged in this way

    It’s made of very thin material that tears easily.

    He’d torn his raincoat.

    tear a hole in something:

    I’ve torn a hole in my sweater!

    tear something to pieces/bits/shreds:

    Mary tore the letter to pieces without reading it.

    tear something in two:

    Reynolds tore the contract in two.

    1. a.
      [transitive] to accidentally damage cloth, paper, etc. with something sharp or by getting it stuck on something
      tear something on something:

      I must have torn my sleeve on that nail.

  2. 3
    [transitive] to remove something by pulling it away from something else with force
    tear something out/off/away from etc.:

    You’ll need to tear the old wallpaper off the walls.

    The storm had torn the old tree up by the roots.

  3. 4
    [intransitive] to move somewhere very quickly, especially in an excited or uncontrolled way
    tear into/off/past etc.:

    Those kids are always tearing around here on their bicycles.

See also


to fall over forwards so that your face hits the ground or another surface

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the activity of exploring abandoned buildings and other manmade structures

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