pred·​a·​tor | \ ˈpre-də-tər How to pronounce predator (audio) , -ˌtȯr How to pronounce predator (audio) \

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


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



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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

Boxwoods were probably unpopular because the foliage's odor can be off-putting, but as deer populations have increased, this predator-resisting attribute has become an advantage. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow Hardy Boxwood Hedges That Resist Blight," 25 July 2018 The reasons for this are typically practical: moving to breeding grounds that predators can't reach easily, for example. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Transplanted mammals take a century to learn to “surf the green wave”," 7 Sep. 2018 Blacklisting is common post-arbitration, because the facts don’t come out in trial, victims are silenced, and predators often keep their jobs. Gretchen Carlson, Fortune, "Gretchen Carlson: The Supreme Court Tried to End #MeToo. Here’s How We’re Fighting Back.," 31 May 2018 Gopal said she's located an 80-acre property in Northwest Indiana away from highways and busy streets, where predators often prowl for unwary victims. Karen Caffarini, Post-Tribune, "Group leading effort to help sex trafficking victims in Northwest Indiana," 25 May 2018 Violet gets right down to business and locks her eyes on Paper Boi, coming off like a predator stalking her prey. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "'Atlanta' Recap Episode 9: Paper Boi is Ready for a Change," 27 Apr. 2018 Learn what apps predators use to target youths; better monitor what your children are doing online; identify and prevent sexting and cyberbullying. Laura Groch,, "North County School News, March 15," 15 Mar. 2018 Even the Puyallup, Green and Duwamish rivers count for the top predators. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Struggling orcas heavily rely on urban chinook from Seattle-area rivers, new analysis shows," 24 July 2018 As an endangered species, the animals face a number of hurdles to stay alive: the encroaching presence of humans, predators in certain parts of the park, and simply put, just not enough land. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "BBC Earth's "Dynasties" Pulls at Heartstrings With the Painted Wolves’ Fight for Survival," 12 Dec. 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

19 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for predator

The first known use of predator was in 1581

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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


pred·​a·​tor | \ ˈpre-də-tər How to pronounce predator (audio) \

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

Comments on predator

What made you want to look up predator? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped

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