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prowl

[proul]
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verb (used without object)
  1. to rove or go about stealthily, as in search of prey, something to steal, etc.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to rove over or through in search of what may be found: The cat prowled the alleys in search of food.
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noun
  1. act of prowling.
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Idioms
  1. on the prowl, in the act of prowling; searching stealthily: The cat is on the prowl for mice.
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Origin of prowl

1350–1400; Middle English prollen < ?
Related formsprowl·ing·ly, adverbun·prowl·ing, adjective

Synonyms

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1. roam. See lurk.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for on the prowl

prowl

verb
  1. (when intr, often foll by around or about) to move stealthily around (a place) as if in search of prey or plunder
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noun
  1. the act of prowling
  2. on the prowl
    1. moving around stealthily
    2. zealously pursuing members of the opposite sex
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Derived Formsprowler, noun

Word Origin

C14 prollen, of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for on the prowl

prowl

v.

late 14c., prollen, "move about in search of something," of unknown origin, with no known cognates. Spelling with -w- is from 1500s (cf. bowl), but pronounced "prôll" till late 18c. Meaning "go stealthily in search of prey" is first recorded 1580s. Related: Prowled; prowling. The noun, in on the prowl, is attested from 1803.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with on the prowl

on the prowl

Actively looking for something, as in Their underpaid computer programmers are always on the prowl for better jobs. This idiom transfers an animal's search for prey to human pursuits that are usually less bloodthirsty. [c. 1800]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.