from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To pull apart or into pieces by force; rend.
  • transitive v. To make (an opening) by ripping: tore a hole in my stocking.
  • transitive v. To lacerate (the skin, for example).
  • transitive v. To separate forcefully; wrench: tore the wrappings off the present.
  • transitive v. To divide or disrupt: was torn between opposing choices; a country that was torn by strife.
  • intransitive v. To become torn.
  • intransitive v. To move with heedless speed; rush headlong.
  • n. The act of tearing.
  • n. The result of tearing; a rip or rent.
  • n. A great rush; a hurry.
  • n. Slang A carousal; a spree.
  • tear around Informal To move about in excited, often angry haste.
  • tear around Informal To lead a wild life.
  • tear at To pull at or attack violently: The dog tore at the meat.
  • tear at To distress greatly: Their plight tore at his heart.
  • tear away To remove (oneself, for example) unwillingly or reluctantly.
  • tear down To demolish: tear down old tenements.
  • tear down To take apart; disassemble: tear down an engine.
  • tear down To vilify or denigrate.
  • tear into To attack with great vigor or violence: tore into the food; tore into his opponent.
  • tear off Informal To produce hurriedly and casually: tearing off article after news article.
  • tear up To tear to pieces.
  • tear up To make an opening in: tore up the sidewalk to add a drain.
  • idiom tear (one's) hair To be greatly upset or distressed.
  • n. A drop of the clear salty liquid that is secreted by the lachrymal gland of the eye to lubricate the surface between the eyeball and eyelid and to wash away irritants.
  • n. A profusion of this liquid spilling from the eyes and wetting the cheeks, especially as an expression of emotion.
  • n. The act of weeping: criticism that left me in tears.
  • n. A drop of a liquid or hardened fluid.
  • intransitive v. To fill with tears.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To rend (a solid material) by holding or restraining in two places and pulling apart, whether intentionally or not; to destroy or separate.
  • v. To injure as if by pulling apart.
  • v. To cause to lose some kind of unity or coherence.
  • v. To make (an opening) with force or energy.
  • v. To remove by tearing.
  • v. To demolish
  • v. To become torn, especially accidentally.
  • v. To move or act with great speed, energy, or violence.
  • v. To smash or enter something with great force.
  • n. A hole or break caused by tearing.
  • n. A drop of clear, salty liquid produced from the eyes by crying or irritation.
  • v. To produce tears.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A drop of the limpid, saline fluid secreted, normally in small amount, by the lachrymal gland, and diffused between the eye and the eyelids to moisten the parts and facilitate their motion. Ordinarily the secretion passes through the lachrymal duct into the nose, but when it is increased by emotion or other causes, it overflows the lids.
  • n. Something in the form of a transparent drop of fluid matter; also, a solid, transparent, tear-shaped drop, as of some balsams or resins.
  • n. That which causes or accompanies tears; a lament; a dirge.
  • n. A partially vitrified bit of clay in glass.
  • n. The act of tearing, or the state of being torn; a rent; a fissure.
  • intransitive v. To divide or separate on being pulled; to be rent.
  • intransitive v. To move and act with turbulent violence; to rush with violence; hence, to rage; to rave.
  • transitive v. To separate by violence; to pull apart by force; to rend; to lacerate
  • transitive v. Hence, to divide by violent measures; to disrupt; to rend.
  • transitive v. To rend away; to force away; to remove by force; to sunder.
  • transitive v. To pull with violence.
  • transitive v. To move violently; to agitate.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rend; pull apart or in pieces; make a rent or rents in: as, to tear one's clothes; to tear up a letter.
  • To produce or effect by rending or some similar action: as, to tear a hole in one's dress.
  • To lacerate; wound in the surface, as by the action of teeth or of something sharp rudely dragged over it: as, to tear the skin with thorns: also used figuratively: as, a heart torn with anguish; a party or a church torn by factions.
  • To drag or remove violently or rudely; pull or pluck with violence or effort; force rudely or unceremoniously; wrench; take by force: with from, down, out, off, etc.
  • To pull to pieces or shreds; rend completely: as, to tear up a piece of paper; to tear up a sheet into strips.
  • Synonyms Rip, Split, etc. See rend.
  • To part, divide, or separate on being pulled or handled with more or less violence: as, cloth that tears readily.
  • To move noisily and with vigorous haste or eagerness; move and act with turbulent violence; hence, to rave; rant; bluster; rage; rush violently or noisily: as, to tear out of the house.
  • To fill or besprinkle with or as with tears.
  • n.
  • n. plural The gum-disease of citrous trees; psorosis.
  • n. A rent; a fissure.
  • n. A turbulent motion, as of water.
  • n. A spree.
  • n. A drop or small quantity of the limpid fluid secreted by the lacrymal gland, appearing in the eye or falling from it; in the plural, the peculiar secretion of the lacrymal gland, serving to moisten the front of the eyeball and inner surfaces of the eyelids, and on occasion to wash out the eye or free it from specks of dirt, dust, or other irritating substances.
  • n. Hence plural Figuratively, grief; sorrow.
  • n. Something like a tear-drop.
  • n. In glass manufacturing, a defect, of occasional occurrence, consisting of a bit of clay from the roof or glass-pot partially vitrified in the glass. Such tears sometimes cause a glass object to fly to pieces without apparent cause.
  • n. In the making of ornamental glass, a pear-shaped drop of colored glass applied for ornament.
  • n. See Coix.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an occasion for excessive eating or drinking
  • n. the act of tearing
  • v. fill with tears or shed tears
  • v. strip of feathers
  • v. to separate or be separated by force
  • v. move quickly and violently
  • n. an opening made forcibly as by pulling apart
  • v. separate or cause to separate abruptly
  • n. a drop of the clear salty saline solution secreted by the lacrimal glands


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English teren, from Old English teran; see der- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English, from Old English tēar; see dakru- in Indo-European roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English teren, from Old English teran ("to tear, lacerate"), from Proto-Germanic *teranan (“to tear, tear apart, rip”), from Proto-Indo-European *derǝ- (“to tear, tear apart”). Cognate with Scots tere, teir, tair ("to rend, lacerate, wound, rip, tear out"), Dutch teren ("to eliminate, efface, live, survive by consumption"), German zehren ("to consume, misuse"), German zerren ("to tug, rip, tear"), Danish tære ("to consume"), Swedish tära ("to fret, consume, deplete, use up"), Icelandic tæra ("to clear, corrode").


  • "He had a name in the village for brutally misusing the ass; yet it is certain that he shed a tear, _and the tear_ made a clean mark down one cheek."

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  • _tear_, the water of the eye, have the same letters, but may be distinguished thus, _tear, dare; tear, peer_.

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  • Emotional tears resolve ambiguity and add meaning to the neuromuscular instrument of facial expression, what we term the tear effect.


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  • Do you include words like dove and lead? Another good one is trunk.

    January 12, 2007

  • tear as in crying or tear as in ripping.

    bow, cleave, polish (if you all-caps it)...any other homographs like this?

    January 11, 2007