- 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 for prey on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for prey
And they prey on those that society will be least likely to believe.How I Stopped My Rapist
November 24, 2014
As he relishes his triumph, a larger, grinning version of the man materializes in the background, eyeing his prey.‘Interstellar’ Is Wildly Ambitious, Very Flawed, and Absolutely Worth Seeing
November 7, 2014
When it comes to protecting birds of prey, Illinois state law can be an ass.He Faces Jail for Rescuing Baby Eagles
November 2, 2014
Yes, Levine plays the role of a stalker and Prinsloo that of his “prey,” but she never comes across as a victim.Sex, Blood and Maroon 5: Pop Culture’s Wounds Run Deep
October 3, 2014
Finally near sunset, he spotted his prey: a whitetail buck grazing in the thick bush.Inside The Growing Organic Halal Movement
September 7, 2014
The voice, too, when he spoke, was as deep and as fierce as the growl of a beast of prey.The White Company
Arthur Conan Doyle
They were not our prey, for they would not rise at a fly, and we knew it.American Notes
And yet, we all agree in one object of our being—all prey on each other!Calderon The Courtier
In less than a year after his return to Silsea, he died—a prey to remorse.Theresa Marchmont
Mrs Charles Gore
Then would the voice especially claim us for its prey, and rend us all to pieces.The Uncommercial Traveller
- 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
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.