1590s, "act of lacerating;" 1630s, "breach or rend made by tearing;" from French lacération, from Latin lacerationem (nominative laceratio) "a tearing, rending, mutilation," noun of action from past-participle stem of lacerare "tear to pieces, mangle; slander, abuse" (see lacerate).
It forms all or part of: derm; -derm; derma; dermal; dermato-; dermatology; echinoderm; epidermis; hypodermic; pachyderm; scleroderma; taxidermy; tart (adj.) "having a sharp taste;" tear (v.1) "pull apart;" tetter; turd.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit drnati "cleaves, bursts;" Greek derein "to flay;" Armenian terem "I flay;" Old Church Slavonic dera "to burst asunder;" Breton darn "piece;" Old English teran "to tear, lacerate."
The Old English past tense survived long enough to get into Bible translations as tare before giving place 17c. to tore, which is from the old past participle toren. Sense of "to pull by force" (away from some situation or attachment) is attested from late 13c. To be torn between two things (desires, loyalties, etc.) is from 1871.