- 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
Examples from the Web for preyed
He also says that Vannoni preyed on those who had lost hope, because they had “less to lose.”‘Hero’ Doc Accused of Harvesting Stem Cells in Dirty Basements
Barbie Latza Nadeau
April 29, 2014
As charming as he was ruthless and fueled by sectarian hate, Mehsud preyed on military forces and civilians alike.The Deaths You Missed This Year
Malcolm Jones, Jimmy So, Michael Moynihan, Caitlin Dickson
December 30, 2013
The film is about a very young aspiring actress who is preyed on by a much older, established star.Susan Sarandon On ‘The Last of Robin Hood,’ NYC Mayor's Race, Being Hacked, More
September 8, 2013
In the story, she was christened “The Hipster Grifter,” because she preyed upon skinny-jeaned Williamsburg sorts.Catching Up With the Hipster Grifter
November 11, 2009
All this preyed on my mind, though, and I used to cry all night.My Double Life
Knowing this, they are preyed upon by thousands of foreign swindlers.As A Chinaman Saw Us
His face was dark with all the passions which had preyed upon the man.Mr. Grex of Monte Carlo
E. Phillips Oppenheim
She wept bitterly, and took it to heart so, it preyed on her health and spirits.Put Yourself in His Place
In Europe it is preyed upon by minute ichneumon flies (Chalcids).Our Common Insects
Alpheus Spring Packard
- 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 preyed
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.