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


bloodsucker, harpy, 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

Fragmentation of forests where there are fewer predators can result in an increase in the mouse population, which carry Borrelia — the ticks that feed on the mice can then be infected. Andrea K. Mcdaniels,, "Ask the expert: With Lyme disease on the rise, here's how you can protect yourself," 3 July 2018 Scott Boback, a vertebrate ecologist at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, notes that the species is an ambush predator. National Geographic, "Python Swallows Woman Whole—What Experts Say About the Rare Attack," 18 June 2018 Some scientists think the fish is an overabundant predator that outcompetes other salmon and some seabirds. Ned Rozell, Anchorage Daily News, "Pink salmon — too much of a good thing?," 15 June 2018 Jimmy Kimmel jokes about last year's Best Picture gaffe and eviscerates Hollywood predators in his monologue. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "These Were the Best Moments of the 2018 Oscars," 5 Mar. 2018 The list of the turtles’ predators is long, from raccoons, to skunks, crows, chipmunks and foxes. Frank Abderholden, Lake County News-Sun, "'Turtle champions' determined to rebuild endangered Blanding's population in Lake County area," 30 May 2018 Sightings of those predators are still startling enough to make news. Bruce Henderson, charlotteobserver, "Alligators, sharks, coyotes reclaiming their old haunts. Get used to it, study says. | Charlotte Observer," 8 May 2018 The three-hour ordeal bore the terrible hallmarks of a predator who came to be dubbed the East Area Rapist. Author: Justin Jouvenal, Anchorage Daily News, "To find alleged Golden State Killer, investigators first found his great-great-great grandparents," 1 May 2018 Of course, Cosby isn’t the only example of predator using branding as a cover. Tim Calkins, Fortune, "Commentary: Everyone Loved Bill Cosby. Did His Brand Cover His Crimes?," 30 Apr. 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

18 Oct 2018

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 \

Kids Definition of predator

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

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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).


a state of commotion or excitement

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