- 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 preys
Bill, of course, is in the latter stages of Hep V—an AIDS-like virus that preys on vampires.'True Blood' Ends With a Whimper: The Sexy HBO Vampire Series Is (Finally) Over
August 25, 2014
Putin preys on the fact that the West thinks money and sport are neutral, or at least civilizing influences.Best Way to Punish Putin? No World Cup
July 20, 2014
This one is ugly for sure, a resistant-to-almost-everything bacteria that preys on the hospitalized patient.Why I’m Not Worried About Dying From a Superbug, and You Shouldn’t Be, Either
March 8, 2013
Then there was the accusation by Kyle that she “preys on the weak.”‘The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ Lisa Vanderpump Dishes
February 6, 2012
These two men helped create the payday loan business that preys on the poorest Americans.America’s Nastiest Lender
June 25, 2011
Resentment also preys upon the mind, and occasions the most obstinate disorders, which gradually waste the constitution.
So you 'll positively not tell me what it is that preys on your mind this morning?Roland Cashel
Charles James Lever
One creature ruthlessly preys on the other, And man, the cleverest, preys on them all.The Buddha
It is not improbable that the sting was made by a wasp (Stizus) which preys on the Cicada.Our Common Insects
Alpheus Spring Packard
He preys only on the smallest quadrupeds, and with all his voracity he is an arrant poltroon.The Bush Boys
Captain Mayne Reid
- 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 preys
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.