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verb (used with object)
  1. to rove over or through in search of what may be found: The cat prowled the alleys in search of food.
  1. act of prowling.
  1. 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

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1. roam. See lurk. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for prowling

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

Examples from the Web for prowling

Contemporary Examples of prowling

Historical Examples of prowling

  • It was Del-phin, very gay, walking on all fours, prowling behind her like a wolf.

  • Not for a moment did he doubt what was the quarry of this prowling gendarmerie.


    Rafael Sabatini

  • It was less than three minutes since the prowling brigands had been seen.

  • All of which had nothing to do with why I was prowling around the Ludmilla—or did it?


    James Benjamin Blish

  • In prowling around he had unexpectedly come upon the three men.


    Alan Douglas

British Dictionary definitions for prowling


  1. (when intr, often foll by around or about) to move stealthily around (a place) as if in search of prey or plunder
  1. the act of prowling
  2. 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 prowling

mid-15c., verbal noun from prowl (v.).



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