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tear down something
to race down something very fast. (See also tear something down.) The girls tore down the hallway as fast as they could run. They tore down the stairs and ran out the door.
tear someone or something down
to criticize or degrade someone or something. Tom is always tearing Jane down. I guess he doesn't like her. It's not nice to tear down the people who work in your office. Why are you always tearing my projects down?
tear something down
to dismantle or destroy something. They plan to tear the old building down and build a new one there. They'll tear down the building in about two weeks.
tear down somebody/somethingalso tear somebody/something down
to damage or reduce the importance of someone or something In the end, she glamorizes the very concept she is trying to tear down. Many blame the media for tearing heroes down by publicizing their mistakes.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of tear down (to cause a structure to fall)
1. Demolish, take apart, as in They tore down the old tenements, or He loved to tear down old engines. [Early 1600s]
2. Vilify or discredit, as in He's always tearing down someone or other. [First half of 1900s]
1. To demolish something; raze something: The city tore down the old warehouses. I put up posters, but my opponents tore them down.
2. To take something apart; disassemble something: The mechanic tore down the engine. We took out the motor and tore it down to find out what was wrong with it.
3. To make vicious and damaging statements about someone or something; denigrate someone or something: The speakers tried to change the audience's opinion, but the audience tore the speakers down.