prey

[prey]
See more synonyms for prey on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. an animal hunted or seized for food, especially by a carnivorous animal.
  2. a person or thing that is the victim of an enemy, a swindler, a disease, etc.; gull.
  3. the action or habit of preying: a beast of prey.
  4. Archaic. booty or plunder.
verb (used without object)
  1. to seize and devour prey, as an animal does (usually followed by on or upon): Foxes prey on rabbits.
  2. to make raids or attacks for booty or plunder: The Vikings preyed on coastal settlements.
  3. to exert a harmful or destructive influence: His worries preyed upon his mind.
  4. to victimize another or others (usually followed by on or upon): loan sharks that prey upon the poor.

Origin of prey

1200–50; Middle English preye < Old French < Latin praeda booty, prey; akin to prehendere to grasp, seize (see prehension)
Related formsprey·er, nounun·prey·ing, adjective
Can be confusedpray prayer prey

Synonyms for prey

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018


Examples from the Web for prey

Contemporary Examples of prey

Historical Examples of prey

  • 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

    Rudyard Kipling

  • And yet, we all agree in one object of our being—all prey on each other!

    Calderon The Courtier

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • 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.


British Dictionary definitions for prey

prey

noun
  1. an animal hunted or captured by another for food
  2. a person or thing that becomes the victim of a hostile person, influence, etc
  3. beast of prey an animal that preys on others for food
  4. bird of prey a bird that preys on others for food
  5. an archaic word for booty 1
verb (intr; often foll by on or upon)
  1. to hunt or seize food by killing other animals
  2. to make a victim (of others), as by profiting at their expense
  3. to exert a depressing or obsessive effect (on the mind, spirits, etc); weigh heavily (upon)
Derived Formspreyer, noun

Word Origin for prey

C13: from Old French preie, from Latin praeda booty; see predatory
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 prey
n.

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).

v.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper