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1. To separate or disentangle multiple people or things. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pull" and "apart." When I tried to pull the soggy notebooks apart, I just ended up ripping them both to shreds. The two had been kissing in the back of class when the teacher pulled them apart.
2. To disassemble something; to separate something into smaller parts or components. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pull" and "apart." I like pulling electronics apart to see how they work. You'll have to pull apart the chair if you want to fit it inside the van.
3. To break, rip, or otherwise destroy something into small pieces or parts. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "pull" and "apart." My two-year-old pulled apart the manuscript I'd been working on for three months. Political differences have pulled our group of friends apart.
4. To cause someone severe anxiety, grief, or emotional turmoil. In this usage, a noun or pronoun is usually used between "pull" and "apart." The grief of losing his husband to cancer is pulling him apart. I know that the bitterness between Mary and her friend is pulling her apart.
pull someone or something apart
to separate or dismember someone or something. The murderer pulled his victim apart and sought to dispose of the parts. He pulled apart his victim. Nick pulled the parts of the box apart.
pull someone apart
1. Lit. to separate people who are entangled. The teacher pulled the fighting boys apart and sent them home. They hugged each other so tightly that no one could have pulled them apart.
2. Fig. to upset someone very much; to cause someone grief and torment. This whole terrible affair has just pulled me apart. Don't let this matter pull you apart. Things won't always be this bad.
1. To pull pieces or components from something; take something apart: I pulled the computer apart and replaced some damaged chips. Our dogs pulled apart the couch while we were away.
2. To separate some people or things: The teacher pulled apart the fighting students. I pulled the two stuck pages apart.
3. To cause someone deep emotional turmoil: Her guilt was pulling her apart.