tear apart

Idioms & Phrases

tear apart

  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 © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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