- an animal hunted or seized for food, especially by a carnivorous animal.
- a person or thing that is the victim of an enemy, a swindler, a disease, etc.; gull.
- the action or habit of preying: a beast of prey.
- Archaic. booty or plunder.
- to seize and devour prey, as an animal does (usually followed by on or upon): Foxes prey on rabbits.
- to make raids or attacks for booty or plunder: The Vikings preyed on coastal settlements.
- to exert a harmful or destructive influence: His worries preyed upon his mind.
- to victimize another or others (usually followed by on or upon): loan sharks that prey upon the poor.
Origin of prey
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
- an animal hunted or captured by another for food
- a person or thing that becomes the victim of a hostile person, influence, etc
- beast of prey an animal that preys on others for food
- bird of prey a bird that preys on others for food
- an archaic word for booty 1
- to hunt or seize food by killing other animals
- to make a victim (of others), as by profiting at their expense
- to exert a depressing or obsessive effect (on the mind, spirits, etc); weigh heavily (upon)
Word Origin and History for prey on
mid-13c., "animal hunted for food," also "that which is taken in war," from Old French preie "booty, animal taken in the chase" (mid-12c., Modern French proie), from Latin praeda "booty, plunder, game hunted," earlier praeheda, related to prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile).
c.1300, "to plunder, pillage, ravage," from prey (n.) and in part from Old French preer, earlier preder (c.1040), from Late Latin praedare, from praeda (see prey (n.)). Its sense of "to kill and devour" is attested from mid-14c. Related: Preyed; preying.
Idioms and Phrases with prey on
Plunder or pillage; also, make a profit at someone else's expense, victimize. For example, Vikings preyed on the coastal towns of England, or The rich have been preying on the poor for centuries. [Late 1500s]
Hunt, especially in order to eat, as in Their cat preys on all the rodents in the neighborhood. [c. 1600]
Exert a baneful or injurious effect, as in Guilt preyed on his mind. [c. 1700]