Etymology: Middle English, from Old English tæhher, tēar; akin to Old High German zahar tear, Greek dakry
Date: before 12th century
a. a drop of clear saline fluid secreted by the lacrimal gland and diffused between the eye and eyelids to moisten the parts and facilitate their motion
b. plural a secretion of profuse tears that overflow the eyelids and dampen the face
2. a transparent drop of fluid or hardened fluid matter (as resin)
3. plural an act of weeping or grieving <broke into tears> • tearless adjective II. intransitive verb Date: before 12th century to fill with tears ; shed tears <eyes tearing in the November wind — Saul Bellow> III. verb (tore; torn; tearing) Etymology: Middle English teren, from Old English teran; akin to Old High German zeran to destroy, Greek derein to skin, Sanskrit dṛṇāti he bursts, tears Date: before 12th century transitive verb 1. a. to separate parts of or pull apart by force ; rend b. to wound by or as if by tearing ; lacerate <tear the skin> 2. to divide or disrupt by the pull of contrary forces <a mind torn with doubts> 3. a. to remove by force ; wrench — often used with off <tear a cover off a box> b. to remove as if by wrenching <tear your thoughts away from the scene> 4. to make or effect by or as if by tearing <tear a hole in the wall> intransitive verb 1. to separate on being pulled ; rend <this cloth tears easily> 2. a. to move or act with violence, haste, or force <went tearing down the street> b. to smash or penetrate something with violent force <the bullet tore through his leg> • tearable adjective • tearer noun Synonyms: tear, rip, rend, split, cleave, rive mean to separate forcibly. tear implies pulling apart by force and leaving jagged edges <tear up the letter>. rip implies a pulling apart in one rapid uninterrupted motion often along a line or joint <ripped the shirt on a nail>. rend implies very violent or ruthless severing or sundering <an angry mob rent the prisoner's clothes>. split implies a cutting or breaking apart in a continuous, straight, and usually lengthwise direction or in the direction of grain or layers <split logs for firewood>. cleave implies very forceful splitting or cutting with a blow <a bolt of lightning cleaved the giant oak>. rive occurs most often in figurative use <a political party riven by conflict>. IV. noun Date: 1611 1. a. damage from being torn; especially a hole or flaw made by tearing b. the act of tearing 2. a. a tearing pace ; hurry b. spree <got paid and went on a tear> c. a run of unusual success <the team was on a tear>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.