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I would like to know the difference between these two terms, and whether they are interchangeable or not. Here are two examples that have the same meaning for me:

"Someone has ripped out the first three pages of this book." "I will rip your head off!"

"Rip" implies to say that someone is going to tear something off. Since both sentences are talking about something being tore off, for instance: Someone ripped my head off, but not only ripped it and made a wound, but also cut it off my neck, it means my neck no longer has a head, it was cut off. So, "out" and "off" implies to say the same thing, why then are there two forms? Do they have different meanings? For instance "rip off" means ripping something off savagely, while "rip out" means ripping something off not so savagely? Or "rip off" doesn't mean "cut my head off my neck" but means only make a wound, while "rip out" means to cut my head off?

Could anyone explain me the difference between them and tell me whether they are interchangeable or not?

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Both "rip off" and "rip out" can mean "to remove". However, there's a connotation of:

  • rip out: to remove something contained within something
  • rip off: to remove something on something.

Examples:

  • I will rip off your head (on your shoulders)
  • I will rip out your kidneys (in your abdomen)
  • I will rip off this sticker (on this page)
  • I will rip out these pages (in this book)
  • I will rip off the doors (on your car)
  • I will rip out the seats (in your car)

Side-note: rip off also have a completely different informal meaning: to cheat/steal. ("I paid $20 for this crap t-shirt? What a rip off!" or "The intro of 'Ice Ice Baby' is the same as Queen's 'Under Pressure,' they totally ripped off Queen.")

  • So you mean, if something is placed inside something, like: My heart is placed inside my body, it would be "out" ? – Davyd Dec 25 '16 at 3:10
  • I am uncertain that this is an unambiguous rule, but also in that case it would definitely be "rip out (my heart)" – NMJD Dec 25 '16 at 3:22
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    "rip your head out of your neck" sounds very odd, as a native speaker. I suppose it's intuitive what you mean, but a native speaker would not say that and if you submitted it in an essay, it would certainly get corrected. – NMJD Dec 25 '16 at 3:29
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    If you were to say, "I ripped off these pages in this book" i would not think you removed them from the book, i would have thought you plaigerized them, in the context of 'to cheat/steal' – NMJD Dec 25 '16 at 3:30
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    no, for me that doesnt change the meaning of the sentence. – NMJD Dec 25 '16 at 15:00

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