verb (used without object)

to rove or go about stealthily, as in search of prey, something to steal, etc.

verb (used with object)

to rove over or through in search of what may be found: The cat prowled the alleys in search of food.


act of prowling.


    on the prowl, in the act of prowling; searching stealthily: The cat is on the prowl for mice.

Origin of prowl

1350–1400; Middle English prollen < ?
Related formsprowl·ing·ly, adverbun·prowl·ing, adjective

Synonyms for prowl

1. roam. See lurk. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for prowled

skulk, slink, lurk, tramp, stroll, roam, scavenge, patrol, hunt, sneak, range, stalk, snake, rove, cruise, steal

Examples from the Web for prowled

Contemporary Examples of prowled

Historical Examples of prowled

  • Stevie prowled round the table like an excited animal in a cage.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

  • I came back to my new hunting ground and all night long I prowled about.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • Eric prowled through the hall to his father's big work-room.

  • He and Mahon prowled soberly about hatches and ventilators, sniffing.


    Joseph Conrad

  • So I prowled about and got plenty, chipping off as much as I could conveniently carry.

    The Book-Hunter

    John Hill Burton

British Dictionary definitions for prowled



(when intr, often foll by around or about) to move stealthily around (a place) as if in search of prey or plunder


the act of prowling
on the prowl
  1. moving around stealthily
  2. zealously pursuing members of the opposite sex
Derived Formsprowler, noun

Word Origin for prowl

C14 prollen, of unknown origin
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 prowled



late 14c., prollen, "move about in search of something," of unknown origin, with no known cognates. Spelling with -w- is from 1500s (cf. bowl), but pronounced "prôll" till late 18c. Meaning "go stealthily in search of prey" is first recorded 1580s. Related: Prowled; prowling. The noun, in on the prowl, is attested from 1803.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper