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.
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
The Cry BBC1, 9pm In despair over the disappearance of their baby, Joanna (Jenna Coleman) pulls apart from husband Alistair (Ewen Leslie).
MOCK THE WEEK (BBC2, 10pm) THE blokey panel show is just one of many doing the rounds that pulls apart the week's news - with a comedy spin obviously to keep us all entertained.
As she continues to rely heavily on advisors to guide her, her stubbornmindedness in political and personal affairs almost pulls apart not only her authority but also her marriage.
Dara O Briain hosts this topical comedy quiz show that pulls apart the newsworthy stories of the week and, with the help of celebrity guests, gives them an hilarious cynical spin.
More than bodies are dissected in this novel, as Gerritsen pulls apart the relationships of men and women in the workplace and the minds of both the good guys and the bad.
The tape helps reduce waste because it tears straight, conforms well to irregular surfaces and easily pulls apart when stuck to itself.
This year Countrywide Home Loans merged its retail Internet and telemarketing operations, and the company no longer pulls apart the Internet business.
The reacher pulls apart and folds for easier storage and transporting, and the molded plastic jaw includes a dressing hook, magnet and serrated rubber tubing to adapt the reacher to a range of tasks.