On a tear

On a tear is an idiom that is primarily used in the United States. We will examine the meaning of the expression on a tear, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

On a tear (rhymes with air) means to be on a spree, to be in a flurry of sustained activity, to engage in a burst of activity, to be on a winning streak, to be on a journey of drunken activity. The idiom on a tear is primarily used in the United States. The idea is of tearing a swath of destruction as one progresses along. The origin of the phrase on a tear is vague, but the term has been in use since the 1800s, originally referring to going on a drunken tear, in which one tears up the town or leaves a path of destruction in one’s wake. The term has taken on a more positive connotation in the last few decades as more and more sports reporters have used the phrase on a tear to describe a team’s winning streak, and businessmen have used it to mean to sustain a successful profit. Often, the idiom is used in the phrase to go on a tear.

Examples

Chinese stocks have been on a tear since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday, with a lot of the rise credited to positive headlines on the prospects of a Washington-Beijing trade accord. (The Wall Street Journal)

President Donald Trump went on a Twitter tear against Nancy Pelosi Sunday morning, which ended with him saying he was “still thinking” about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request to postpone his State of the Union speech or submit it in writing. (Business Insider)

That obviously goes without saying for any minor league baseball player, but the McSherrystown native is on a tear right now for the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate. (The Evening Sun)

As the fall of 1948 turned to winter, Jackson County Sheriff Griffin Middleton was on a tear. (The Sylvan Herald)