pred·​a·​tor ˈpre-də-tər How to pronounce predator (audio) -ˌtȯr How to pronounce predator (audio)
: 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
: one who injures or exploits others for personal gain or profit
Businessmen, he believed, were often predatorsNathan 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

Example Sentences

predators like bears and wolves The population of rabbits is controlled by natural predators. a corporate predator acquiring business rivals
Recent Examples on the Web Child predators target kids’ webcams, Hawaiian tourists’ GPS blunders and make sure your security cam doesn’t break the law. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 25 May 2023 Ramos was immediately intrigued, since expelling ink is typically a defense mechanism that cephalopods use to ward off predators—but Costello only shared his tank with tiny, non-predatory fish. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 May 2023 Wild orcas, although apex predators that hunt sharks and whales, are not generally considered dangerous to humans. Isabella Kwai, New York Times, 24 May 2023 In the new study, Banks and his colleagues modified a strategy that has proved successful in protecting endangered birds in New Zealand: throwing nonnative predators off the scent of their prey by robbing the scent of its meaning. Bysoumya Sagar,, 22 May 2023 For prey, the goal is to mimic something unpalatable or potentially dangerous to a predator. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 8 May 2023 Our current research examines the methods online predators use to compromise children’s webcams. Christian Jordan Howell, The Conversation, 2 May 2023 Years ago, her entire flock was killed by a predator, so her former owners brought her to the nonprofit's Missouri sanctuary to give her a safe place to live. Kelli Bender, Peoplemag, 21 Apr. 2023 Turkeys are looking for seclusion and safety from predators when on the roost. Alex Robinson, Outdoor Life, 18 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'predator.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of predator was in 1581

Dictionary Entries Near predator

Cite this Entry

“Predator.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


pred·​a·​tor ˈpred-ət-ər How to pronounce predator (audio) -ə-ˌtȯ(ə)r How to pronounce predator (audio)
: an animal that obtains food mostly by killing and eating other animals

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