Definition of rend in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Tear (something) into two or more pieces.

    ‘snapping teeth that would rend human flesh to shreds’
    figurative ‘the speculation and confusion that was rending the civilized world’
    • ‘And the horde charged once more, their nerves steeled and their war-cries resonating, ready to shred, rend and tear apart any foe, be it human or not.’
    • ‘But as we limp into the 21st century, that gender gap is rending the fabric of the entire African-American community.’
    • ‘Within two years the empire was rent by conflicts between the powerful successor generals, whose ambitions had only been repressed by their devotion to the authority of Alexander.’
    • ‘They were pawns, used to play a game that would otherwise rend the universe apart.’
    • ‘That also rends into tatters the shreds of my emotionless image, wouldn't you say?’
    • ‘Unfortunately, there's not enough violence here to fully rend and flay, just enough to bruise.’
    • ‘Our flag is no piece of sheeting for authoritarians to hide behind as they rend our hard-won liberties in the name of ‘protecting’ us from a dangerous world.’
    • ‘These missiles locked onto their targets and streaked unerringly through space, determined to rend metal and flesh.’
    • ‘The gryphons swooped on her soldiers and began to rend them apart.’
    • ‘Blind resistance to that rethinking will only further rend the social fabric.’
    • ‘When the pain in his side bent him almost double and sweat stung his eyes, blurring his sight, still he flung himself forward, his breath a roar in his ears, his heart feeling as though it would rend itself in his chest.’
    • ‘Before you rend any fabric, hear me out, please.’
    • ‘He knew from experience that the whip could rip flesh from bone, and rend good armor into so much scrap metal.’
    • ‘She had the scars to prove that they had learned the hard way how easily a dragon's claws could rend human flesh.’
    rip apart, tear apart, rip in two, tear in two, rip to pieces, tear to pieces, split, rupture, sever, separate
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    1. 1.1archaic Wrench (something) violently.
      ‘he rent the branch out of the tree’
    2. 1.2literary Cause great emotional pain to (a person or their heart).
      • ‘There are plenty of factual accounts in Bringing them Home which rend the heart.’
      • ‘But nothing prepared me for the aggregate loss, when each problem list and interesting case turns out to be your neighbor and friend, and every final parting rends you where the heart resides.’
      torment, afflict, torture, pain, agonize, cause agony to, cause pain to, cause suffering to, harrow, pierce, stab, wound, crucify
      View synonyms


  • rend the air

    • literary Sound piercingly.

      ‘a shrill scream rent the air’
      • ‘A student brass band played, rose petals were showered and pigeons were released as peace slogans rent the air.’
      • ‘He was almost to the tree, when he heard a piercing scream rend the air.’
      • ‘The beating of drums coupled with notes from the trumpet rent the air.’
      • ‘Shouts of excitement and shrills of joy rent the air.’
      • ‘A horrible yowling sound rent the air, a cacophony of dissonant notes in the cool morning stillness.’
      • ‘Loud guffaws rent the air and before one wave of laughter could die another surged in.’
      • ‘Loud cheers rent the air as the smiling star, somewhat overwhelmed by the tumultuous welcome, made her way inside the college.’
      • ‘Unearthly screams rent the air; foul smells offended the nostrils.’
      • ‘The shockwave hit a second later, throwing Tim and the others to the floor as a loud crack rent the air, the sound nearly deafening them.’
      • ‘The occasional scream of agony and the sound of the lash rent the air.’
  • rend one's garments (or hair)

    • Tear one's clothes as a sign of extreme grief or distress.

      • ‘Even today, when we approach the remaining vestige of our ancient Temple, we rend our garments like those in mourning.’
      • ‘There is a gasp; the high priest rends his garments and declares Jesus a blasphemer.’


Old English rendan; related to Middle Low German rende.