- 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 preying
Being a predator and preying on underage kids makes you a predator.‘Dozens and Dozens’ of Hollywood Sex Assault Victims Coming Forward, Lawyer Says
May 1, 2014
But young men have been “preying” on young women since the dawn of time.‘Fantasy Slut League’: Earning Points for Sexual Encounters in High School
October 26, 2012
Finally, there are criminal elements that seem to be preying on all sides of the conflict.Syria’s Propaganda Cloud: How the West Is Falling for Misinformation
Riad al Khouri
June 22, 2012
Sandusky has been charged with preying on young boys over a 15-year period.Joe Paterno’s Troubling Attitude Toward Sex Charges
November 12, 2011
The number of cases has led to speculation that a serial killer has been preying on women in the area.A Teen Serial Killer in Canada?
October 23, 2011
And this idea of restraint was preying upon him, and he could not throw it off.Life in London
He noticed that some secret grief was preying upon the Prince's mind.Welsh Fairy Tales
William Elliott Griffis
He compelled Algiers to prevent her pirates from preying upon our commerce.The Nation in a Nutshell
George Makepeace Towle
The whining dogs are preying upon your simpleness, mistress Israel.The Scapegoat
Predaceous: applied to insects that live by preying upon other organisms.Explanation of Terms Used in Entomology
John. B. Smith
- 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 preying
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.