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, 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

The boquila, a woody vine native to South America, avoids predators by mimicking the shape, size and color of its neighbors’ leaves. Gerard Helferich, WSJ, "‘The Revolutionary Genius of Plants’ Review: Thinking Like a Flower," 4 Jan. 2019 Scientists believe strandings can be caused by a number of factors, such as the whales trying to escape predators, falling ill, or navigating incorrectly. Nick Perry, The Seattle Times, "6 whales refloated after stranding on New Zealand beach," 28 Nov. 2018 The likely explanation, the team says, is that without a top predator like the dingo, smaller hunters such as foxes and cats have flourished, decimating prey species like hopping mice and rabbits. Lakshmi Supriya, Science | AAAS, "A fence built to keep out wild dogs out has dramatically altered the Australian landscape," 6 July 2018 For more on how Lilly has coped with fame, predators like Harvey Weinstein and the Me Too movement, click here. Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY, "Evangeline Lilly took 2 years to lose her baby weight (and she's not sorry about it)," 6 July 2018 See: Epic Birds 1 / 32 View Images The flamingos live in an open-air enclosure, which by its nature can be infiltrated by aerial predators like hawks that wouldn’t hesitate to raid a flamingo nest. National Geographic, "What Does It Take to Raise a Flamingo?," 25 June 2018 Image Scientists say a variety of factors have contributed to the boom, including overfishing of predators like cod and the lobstermen’s own conservation efforts. New York Times, "Climate Change Brought a Lobster Boom. Now It Could Cause a Bust.," 21 June 2018 The crabs’ rise has coincided with the decline of the Maine soft-shell clam industry, which had its smallest harvest since the 1930s last year, due in part to an increase in predators, like crabs. Washington Post, "How to slow an invasive species? Turn it into gourmet food," 6 June 2018 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

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

11 Jan 2019

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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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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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