noun pred·a·tor \ ˈpre-də-tər , -ˌtȯr \
Updated on: 20 Apr 2018

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

Examples of predator in a Sentence

  1. predators like bears and wolves

  2. The population of rabbits is controlled by natural predators.

  3. a corporate predator acquiring business rivals

Recent Examples of predator from the Web

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.

First Known Use of predator


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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predator Synonyms



Other Zoology Terms

PREDATOR Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of predator for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


noun pred·a·tor \ ˈpre-də-tər \

Definition of predator for Students

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

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unwilling or reluctant

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