Tear apart

Tear apart

By Alena Lien, 

6 June 2021

"Tear apart" has 7 definitions. For all of these definitions, "tear apart" can be separated.


1.   "Tear (somebody) apart" - To make someone very sad, upset or worried.

"Tear (somebody) up

   - also has the same meaning.

  • "He's still really torn up about their breakup."

2.   "Tear (something) apart" - To make a group of people - a country, organisation, or family - argue or fight each other.

  • "When will you realise that your gambling is tearing the family apart?"

  • "Our family migrated overseas just before the civil war tore the country apart."

3. "Tear (something) apart" - To pull something violently into pieces.

  • "Dingoes have been observed to be tidy eaters but can tear apart their prey in certain situations.

  • "How do I stop the cat from tearing the furniture apart?"

"Tear (something) up

   - also has the same meaning.

  • "It wasn't long before the kids tore up the new couch."

4.   "Tear (something) apart" - To destroy something.

  • "You can see videos online of buildings being torn apart by hurricanes."

  • "The blast tore the building apart and damaged properties nearby."

"Rip through (something)

   - has a similar meaning. 

To me however, this sounds better in the active voice.

  • "You can see videos online of hurricanes ripping through buildings."

5.   "Tear (something) apart" - To severely defeat another opponent.

This use was only found in the Merriam Webster dictionary. This is similar to destroying something but in a figurative sense.

This also seems to be more commonly used in gaming or competitive sports.

  • "He had to start from scratch when his character got torn apart in last week's competition."

  • "The visiting team tore our team apart yesterday. It wasn't good."

6.   "Tear (something) apart" - To search a place thoroughly but in a careless way that causes damage.

  • "They tore the house apart, looking for the hidden safe."

  • "You don't always have to tear the room apart just to look for your keys, you know?"

7.   "Tear (somebody/something) apart" - To criticise someone or something in a harsh or angry way.

  • "The article really didn't hold back on tearing the company apart."

  • "I heard he tore the waitress apart because she served him the wrong drink."

"Rip (somebody/something) apart

   - also has the same meaning.

  • "The reviews are really ripping the new movie apart. Do you still want to watch it?"

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