predator

noun
pred·​a·​tor | \ˈpre-də-tər, -ˌtȯr \

Definition of predator 

1 : an organism that primarily obtains food by the killing and consuming of other organisms : an organism that lives by predation The threadworm is a tiny nematode; its manifold kin include human parasites such as the hookworm, although the lab species is no parasite but an abundant, free-living predator of soil bacteria.— Eleanor E. MacCoby In a new environment, with no predators, an exotic plant can theoretically run riot. especially : an animal that preys on other animals With no large predators around, the koala rarely meets a violent end. — Denis Gray The picture that emerges from my research in a near-wilderness environment is that of the red fox as a specialized predator of small prey (insects, songbirds, small rodents, rabbits), with highly evolved and intriguing adaptations for this type of hunting … — J. David Henry Some spiders and caterpillars mimic bird droppings—an excellent strategy for deterring avian predators. — James Martin

2 : one who injures or exploits others for personal gain or profit Businessmen, he believed, were often predators— Nathan Glick Neighborhood predators found that setting a fire was an excellent distraction for robbery. The burned-out structure could then be looted at leisure …— Tom Buckley — see also sexual predator

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Synonyms & Antonyms for predator

Synonyms

bloodsucker, buzzard, harpy, kite, shark, vampire, vulture, wolf

Antonyms

prey

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Examples of predator in a Sentence

predators like bears and wolves The population of rabbits is controlled by natural predators. a corporate predator acquiring business rivals
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Recent Examples on the Web

Before September 26, 1981, the ferret — a 19 to 24 inch-long, 1.4 to 2.5 pound predator who mostly targets prairie dogs in the United State’s Western plains — was not just considered endangered; it was considered extinct. Dylan Matthews, Vox, "How to save a species (if you really want to)," 21 Nov. 2018 Scientists say predators are needed to prevent the moose herd, which totals about 1,500, from becoming so large that the voracious animals overeat trees and shrubs. John Flesher, The Seattle Times, "Wolf taken to Isle Royale National Park this fall dies," 14 Nov. 2018 Those vibrations drowned out the insect-like clicks of camera shutters and the frantic splashing of predator-evading Banana River fish in a monumental wall of noise. Mike Wall, Space.com, "A Fireball and a Wall of Sound: What NASA's Epic Solar Probe Launch Felt Like," 14 Aug. 2018 And in urban and suburban areas, predators come in all shapes and sizes, from coyotes to raccoons to hawks. Denise Foley, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Raising Backyard Chickens," 14 Aug. 2018 The author, Vanderbilt University's Ken Catania, has a knack for creatively studying the aggressive behavior of various creatures; his specialty is predator/prey interactions. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Cockroaches deliver karate kicks to avoid being turned into “zombies”," 3 Nov. 2018 In a new world without predators, over hundreds of thousands of years, this creature shrank in body size. John Hawks, WSJ, "‘Lamarck’s Revenge’ Review: Inheriting the Wrong Ideas," 16 Aug. 2018 Along with catching this impressive predator, the trap also ensnared an 8-ft. Kelli Bender, PEOPLE.com, "Just Another Day in Australia: Rangers Wrangle 1,300-lb. Crocodile to Keep It from Entering Town," 10 July 2018 Large predators, such as lions, typically meander through their territory looking for prey. Kevin Davenport, idahostatesman, "Night shift: Animals are retreating into the darkness out of fear of humans," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'predator.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of predator

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for predator

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for predator

The first known use of predator was in 1581

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More Definitions for predator

predator

noun

English Language Learners Definition of predator

: an animal that lives by killing and eating other animals : an animal that preys on other animals

: a person who looks for other people in order to use, control, or harm them in some way

predator

noun
pred·​a·​tor | \ˈpre-də-tər \

Kids Definition of predator

: an animal that lives mostly by killing and eating other animals

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More from Merriam-Webster on predator

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with predator

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for predator

Spanish Central: Translation of predator

Nglish: Translation of predator for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of predator for Arabic Speakers

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