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



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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 That relationship between predator and prey, the authors contend, is the driver behind the emergence of ant-nest clusters distributed in a Turing pattern. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Clustering pattern of Azteca ant colonies may be due to a Turing mechanism," 2 Jan. 2020 Scales also protect females from male biting during courtship and help some shark species defend against other predators. Rachel Nuwer, Scientific American, "Ocean Acidification Could Eat Away at Sharks’ Teeth and Scales," 19 Dec. 2019 Advocates of returning bears and other predators to the state are now trying to get an initiative on the 2020 ballot to have the state reintroduce gray wolves west of the Continental Divide. Washington Post, "National Digest: Federal officials agree to review effectiveness of grizzly bear protections," 10 Dec. 2019 The state Parks and Wildlife Department said Texas has been overrun by more than 1.5 million wild hogs in recent decades because of disease eradication, limited natural predators and high reproductive potential. Alex Johnson, NBC News, "Wild hogs kill woman in attack outside Texas home, sheriff says," 26 Nov. 2019 The fine hairs on their legs detect air movement by potential prey or predators. Ellen Nibali,, "Garden Q&A: On wolf spiders and trimming holly bushes," 24 Oct. 2019 In most corners of the planet, humans and big predators don’t easily co-exist. Christina Larson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lions kill cattle, so people kill lions. Can the cycle end?," 7 Oct. 2019 The board of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife voted to implement new regulations banning hunting contests for certain predators and fur-bearing animals, the state announced on Friday., "MassWildlife bans predator hunting contests, wanton waste of game - The Boston Globe," 22 Dec. 2019 The agency recommends riders to help keep cattle apart from wolves and to remove dead or ailing cows that attract predators. Los Angeles Times, oregonlive, "26 dead wolves, 1 ranch in the spotlight," 21 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for predator

Time Traveler

The first known use of predator was in 1581

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Statistics for predator

Last Updated

11 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Predator.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for predator


How to pronounce predator (audio) How to pronounce predator (audio)

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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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 plan in which a last survivor takes all

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