Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun 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.
  • noun A profusion of this liquid spilling from the eyes and wetting the cheeks, especially as an expression of emotion.
  • noun The act of weeping.
  • noun A drop of a liquid or hardened fluid.
  • intransitive verb To become filled with tears.
  • intransitive verb To pull apart or into pieces by force; rend.
  • intransitive verb To cause to be pulled apart unintentionally, as by accident.
  • intransitive verb To lacerate (the skin, for example).
  • intransitive verb To make (an opening) in something by pulling it apart or by accident.
  • intransitive verb To separate forcefully; wrench.
  • intransitive verb To divide or disrupt.
  • intransitive verb To become torn.
  • intransitive verb To move with heedless speed; rush headlong.
  • noun The act of tearing.
  • noun The result of tearing; a rip or rent.
  • noun A great rush; a hurry.
  • noun Slang A carousal; a spree.
  • idiom (tear (one's) hair) To be greatly upset or distressed.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To fill or besprinkle with or as with tears.
  • 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.
  • noun A rent; a fissure.
  • noun A turbulent motion, as of water.
  • noun A spree.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Hence plural Figuratively, grief; sorrow.
  • noun Something like a tear-drop.

Etymologies

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

[Middle English ter, from Old English tēar; see dakru- in Indo-European roots.]

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

[Middle English teren, from Old English teran; see der- 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").

Examples

  • "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."

    English: Composition and Literature

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

    The Works of Samuel Johnson, Volume 05 Miscellaneous Pieces

  • When deployed, a chemical in the device heats up to several hundred degrees, vaporizing a solvent that carries the dry chemical into the air the term "tear gas" is a misnomer-it is actually a fine acid powder aerosol, not a gas.

    Forbes.com: News

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

    TierneyLab

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

    TierneyLab

  • They refurbished what they described as a tear-down, making the downstairs business headquarters for Barbara's Catering by Culinaire and moving in upstairs to call the expansive second floor home. who acknowledged there's "overwhelming sentiment" to saving the Dome.

    chron.com Chronicle

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

    TierneyLab

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

    TierneyLab

  • And I think ultimately, the decision was made to put in tear gas in the hopes that this would cause them to put their weapons down and come out.

    'Stalling For Time' With An FBI Hostage Negotiator

  • But to me, this kind of naturally-accumulated wear and tear is part and parcel of owning and using a fine rifle; it comes with the territory.

    All About Rifle Abuse*

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • 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

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

    January 12, 2007