that pries; looking or searching curiously.
impertinently or unnecessarily curious or inquisitive.

Nearby words

  1. prutah,
  2. prw,
  3. pry,
  4. pryderi,
  5. pryer,
  6. pryingly,
  7. prynne,
  8. prynne, william,
  9. prypyat',
  10. prytaneum

Origin of prying

First recorded in 1950–55; pry1 + -ing2

1. peeping, peering, peeking. 2. nosy.

Related formspry·ing·ly, adverbpry·ing·ness, nounun·pry·ing, adjective

Synonym study

2. See curious.



noun, verb (used with object) Scot. and North England.



verb (used without object), pried, pry·ing.

to inquire impertinently or unnecessarily into something: to pry into the personal affairs of others.
to look closely or curiously; peer; peep.

noun, plural pries.

an impertinently inquisitive person.
an act of prying.

Origin of pry

1275–1325; Middle English pryen, prien < ?



verb (used with object), pried, pry·ing.

to move, raise, or open by leverage.
to get, separate, or ferret out with difficulty: to pry a secret out of someone; We finally pried them away from the TV.

noun, plural pries.

a tool, as a crowbar, for raising, moving, or opening something by leverage.
the leverage exerted.

Origin of pry

1800–10; back formation from prize3, taken as a plural noun or 3rd person singular verb


or prie

[pree]Scot. and North England


a test, trial, or taste; a test by sampling.

verb (used with object), preed, pree·ing.

to try, test, or taste.

Origin of pree

1690–1700; shortened form of preive, Middle English preve (noun), preven (v.) < Old French pr(o)eve, preuver; see prove Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for prying

British Dictionary definitions for prying



verb pries, prying or pried

(intr often foll by into) to make an impertinent or uninvited inquiry (about a private matter, topic, etc)

noun plural pries

the act of prying
a person who pries

Word Origin for pry

C14: of unknown origin



verb pries, prying or pried

to force open by levering
US and Canadian to extract or obtain with difficultythey had to pry the news out of him
Equivalent term (in Britain and other countries): prise

Word Origin for pry

C14: 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 prying
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper