Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Encyclopedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
1. To violently rip or pull someone or something into pieces. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." He tore the contract apart when he realized how little he would be paid for his work. The pack of wolves tore apart their prey.
2. For a disagreement, problem, or outside factor to cause division in or force the dissolution of a relationship or group, such as of a romantic couple, family members, or organization. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." The death of a child is the most calamitous thing anyone can experience, and it ends up tearing many couples apart. It's such a shame to see a family torn apart by squabbles over money. The issue has been tearing the community apart for months.
3. To criticize or reproach someone or something in a severe and merciless manner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." The reviews absolutely tore apart the sequel, but I don't think it was that bad. I heard the boss tearing Jack apart for his handling of the Jefferson account.
4. To cause someone to be extremely or inconsolably sad; to devastate someone. A noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." Can't you see you're tearing Jane apart? Why do you have to treat her that way? That documentary really tore me apart. I still feel so hopeless after watching it.
5. To search through some place very thoroughly and aggressively, often leaving things in disarray as a result. In this usage, a noun or pronoun can be used between "tear" and "apart." I tore the house apart looking for my passport. FBI investigators have been tearing the office building apart in search of documents linking the corporation to criminal activity. Burglars tore the place apart looking for anything valuable.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
tear a place apart
Fig. to search somewhere to the point of destruction. The cops came with a search warrant and tore your room apart. If you don't come up with the money you kept for us, we'll tear apart your house!
tear someone apart
1. Lit. to rip someone apart savagely. (See also tear something apart.) Max threatened to tear Tom apart. The bear tore apart the hiker.
2. Fig. to cause two people, presumably lovers, to separate unwillingly. The enormous disruption of the accident tore them apart and they separated. The bickering between their parents finally tore apart the engaged couple.
3. Fig. to cause someone enormous grief or emotional pain. The death of her dog tore her apart. It was the dog's death that tore apart Barbara.
4. Fig. to criticize someone mercilessly. The critic tore apart the entire cast of the play. Why do you have to tear yourself apart for making a little error?
tear something apart
1. to pull or rip something apart. (See also tear someone apart.) The bear tore the tent apart. The lions tore apart the wildebeest in minutes, and began eating it.
2. to criticize something mercilessly. The critic tore apart the entire cast of the play.
3. to divide something or the members of a group, citizens of a country, etc. The financial crisis tore the club apart. The crisis tore apart the organization.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Upset or make distraught, as in The parents' divorce tore apart the grandparents. [Second half of 1800s]
2. Criticize severely, as in The professor tore her paper apart. [Mid-1900s]
3. Search some place completely, as in The police tore the house apart. [Second half of 1900s]
4. Separate, especially unwillingly, as in The war tore many families apart.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To destroy something by or as if by tearing: The explosion tore the building apart. The tornado tore apart the barn.
2. To separate someone from someone else: Don't let your anger tear you apart from me. We can't tear the happy couple apart.
3. To criticize something harshly: The committee tore apart my report. The professor tore the student's paper apart.
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.
tear someone/something apart
tv. to criticize someone or something severely. I was late, and the boss tore me apart.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.