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Why do we say 'tearing about' meaning rushing around in a rather haphazard way. I can't find the expression in any dictionary or thesaurus and am not sure if I am spelling it correctly. Most concerned it could die out if parents don't continue to use it to chastise lively children! Any ideas?

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closed as general reference by Kris, Bill Franke, MετάEd, Hellion, Robusto Dec 27 '12 at 13:43

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Just look up tear at the freedictionary, and select the appropriate sense from those listed - it appears in both the AHDEL and Collins. Various prepositions / particles may be added: tore up the street / tore along the road / tore into the car park / tore along. –  Edwin Ashworth Dec 25 '12 at 8:54
    
Which dictionaries are you checking? It's present on dictionary.reference.com/browse/tear and the macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/tear and my old hardcopies of the Macquarie and 5th ed Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English? –  tanantish Dec 25 '12 at 8:56
    
What is the tearing hurry now? Check the right dictionaries first. :) –  Kris Dec 25 '12 at 9:13
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1 Answer 1

The core meaning of the verb tear expresses forceful action. When people tear about, in the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition they ‘move with violence or impetuosity’. Such usage is colloquial, but it has a long history, being first recorded in the seventeenth century.

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