Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

prey

[prey]
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.
Show More
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.
Show More

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

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for preyer

Historical Examples

  • Even when Preyer injected a cubic centimetre of 60 per cent.

    Poisons: Their Effects and Detection

    Alexander Wynter Blyth

  • Curarine was first separated by Preyer in a crystalline form in 1865.

  • Helmholtz is a representative of the former theory, and Preyer of the latter.

    The Wonders of Life

    Ernst Haeckel

  • Dr. Preyer has observed that a hamster sometimes goes five minutes without breathing appreciably after a fortnight's sleep.

  • Preyer generally agrees with him in extending the idea of life to the whole universe, and conceiving it as an organism.

    The Wonders of Life

    Ernst Haeckel


British Dictionary definitions for preyer

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
Show More
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)
Show More
Derived Formspreyer, noun

Word Origin

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 preyer

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).

Show More

prey

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.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper