pull apart

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pull apart

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.
See also: apart, pull
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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.
See also: apart, pull

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.
See also: apart, pull
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pull apart

v.
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.
See also: apart, pull
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in classic literature ?
It is also said that the student is glad to get wounds in the face, because the scars they leave will show so well there; and it is also said that these face wounds are so prized that youths have even been known to pull them apart from time to time and put red wine in them to make them heal badly and leave as ugly a scar as possible.
Footage, captured on a taxi driver's dash cam, shows a number of men and women squaring up to each other and throwing punches at one another while others attempt to pull them apart.
Spending summers with Pa Charlie's traveling carnival has always been a highlight of the year for the Trimble sisters, but now a mysterious, growing energy threatens to pull them apart. Gina Linko's Flower Moon is a captivating coming-of-age tale about trusting yourself, trusting others, and fighting for what you believe in.
If foliage is healthy, dig them up, pull them apart and replant a few inches apart and 4-6in deep, after dressing soil with organic matter.
When they're big enough to handle - as thick as a pencil - pull them apart, trim roots and tops neatly and drop them in deep holes.
Their respective families and cultures strive to pull them apart, and the threat of the murderous Taliban hangs heavy.
PULL THEM APART AND TAP EACH FILTER--HARD--WITH THE HEEL OF YOUR HAND TO LOOSEN DUST AND SAND.
He added that before he knew it, they were having a full-blown fight, rolling around on the ground, trading blows, adding that onlookers had to pull them apart before things got really bad.
Both men went head to head as a scrum of their team-mates raced in to pull them apart. Hibs are confident their man did not land any punches so have lodged an appeal with the SFA.
The simplest method of dividing is to simply pull them apart, like phlox, montbretia, geraniums and so on.
A fight reportedly later spilled out into the hall as roommates tried to pull them apart, then Mr Khan fell after the other man punched him.
However, when they learn a terrible truth about themselves, they are forced to confront their own mortality as well as the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.
Just slowly pull one free from a random pile and watch a chain form as they all jump in line; push the two ends together and then pull them apart like a zipper; craft a snowflake or necklace; or wrap a band around your finger.
Researchers have described a "blindfold handshake" between microtubes - or threads - which capture chromosomes and pull them apart into each new cell.
If this ship and the others were dismantled in India, they would pull them apart with no regards to the environment or the workers doing it, whereas here the dismantling will be done properly.