See more synonyms for prying on

Origin of prying

First recorded in 1950–55; pry1 + -ing2
Related formspry·ing·ly, adverbpry·ing·ness, nounun·pry·ing, adjective

Synonyms for prying

See more synonyms for on
1. peeping, peering, peeking. 2. nosy.

Synonym study

2. See curious.


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


verb (used without object), pried, pry·ing.
  1. to inquire impertinently or unnecessarily into something: to pry into the personal affairs of others.
  2. to look closely or curiously; peer; peep.
noun, plural pries.
  1. an impertinently inquisitive person.
  2. an act of prying.

Origin of pry

1275–1325; Middle English pryen, prien < ?


verb (used with object), pried, pry·ing.
  1. to move, raise, or open by leverage.
  2. 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.
  1. a tool, as a crowbar, for raising, moving, or opening something by leverage.
  2. 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
  1. a test, trial, or taste; a test by sampling.
verb (used with object), preed, pree·ing.
  1. to try, test, or taste.
  1. pree the mouth of, Scot. to kiss.

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

Contemporary Examples of prying

Historical Examples of prying

British Dictionary definitions for prying


verb pries, prying or pried
  1. (intr often foll by into) to make an impertinent or uninvited inquiry (about a private matter, topic, etc)
noun plural pries
  1. the act of prying
  2. a person who pries

Word Origin for pry

C14: of unknown origin


verb pries, prying or pried
  1. to force open by levering
  2. 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



"look inquisitively," c.1300, from prien "to peer in," of unknown origin, perhaps related to late Old English bepriwan "to wink." Related: Pried; prying. As a noun, "act of prying," from 1750; meaning "inquisitive person" is from 1845.



"raise by force," 1823, from a noun meaning "instrument for prying, crowbar;" alteration of prize (as though it were a plural) in obsolete sense of "lever" (c.1300), from Old French prise "a taking hold, grasp" (see prize (n.2)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper