verb (used without object)

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for preyed

Contemporary Examples of preyed

Historical Examples of preyed

  • All this preyed on my mind, though, and I used to cry all night.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • Knowing this, they are preyed upon by thousands of foreign swindlers.

  • 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.

  • In Europe it is preyed upon by minute ichneumon flies (Chalcids).

    Our Common Insects

    Alpheus Spring Packard

British Dictionary definitions for preyed



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

verb (intr; often foll by on or upon)

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)
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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper