Tear - Encyclopedia

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TEAR, a drop of the liquid secretion of the lachrymal gland, constantly produced in a certain quantity and flowing through the nasal duct without notice, but, when stimulated by pain, emotion or artificial excitation, increasing so that it flows over the eyelids and runs down the cheeks and is the visible result of crying or weeping (see EYE). The 0.E tear, taer, is represented in other Teutonic languages by Dan. taar; Swed. ta r; Goth. tagr, &c. The O.H.G. was zahar; the mod. Ger. Zahre was formed from the M.H.G. plural Zahere. The commoner word in Ger. Thrdne, cf. Du. traan, is closely allied. The original root is seen in Gr. Sai:pv, Lat. lacrima, lacruma, for dacruma, whence Fr. larme, and It., Sp., and Port. lagrima. The generally accepted Indo-Germ. root is dak-, to bite, cf. Gr. & KV€ty, and Skt. dac, to bite, tears being "biting" or "bitter" things. The Du. traan, in the sense of tear-drop, was particularly applied to the blubber of whales reduced to oil by boiling, whence has come the tautological English "train-oil," often identified with the lubricant used for the wheels of railway trains. For the so-called "tear-vessels," which are properly small vases containing unguents, see Lacrymatory.

"Tear" (O.E. teran), to pull apart violently, to rend, is, of course, a distinct word; it is cognate with Gr. Spiv, to flay, pull off, and the root is seen in Gr. 34)µa, skin, whence "dermatology," "epidermis," &c.

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