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

Shark tourism helps raise money for conservation, and the sudden absence of the apex predators could have knock-on effects on the whole ecosystem. Linda Nordling, Science | AAAS, "Great white sharks have suddenly disappeared from one of their favorite hangouts," 30 Aug. 2019 The choice for mascot was a swift predator prevalent in in the Clear Lake area — the keen-eyed falcon. Jennie Bolton, Houston Chronicle, "Football quiz: Can you name all the mascots for Clear Creek ISD teams?," 23 Aug. 2019 Fact: Forests support healthy populations of white-footed mouse predators like hawks, owls, weasels, foxes, bobcats, and large snakes. Ted Levin,, "9 myths about ticks and Lyme disease, debunked," 23 Aug. 2019 Carp-kun, a goldfish in the Kochi zoo who is the last survivor of a cohort of 200 fry fed to the zoo’s birds and who later outlived a giant salamander who attacked him daily, was enjoying an old age free of predators. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's magazine, "Findings," 19 Aug. 2019 Until about 10,000 years ago, the saber-tooth cat Smilodon fatalis was a fearsome predator in what is now the American West. John Pickrell, National Geographic, "Saber-tooth surprise: Fossils redraw picture of the fearsome big cat," 5 Aug. 2019 Reports from The New York Times, Wired, and even investigations conducted by creators have discovered a multitude of issues, including a network of predators using comment sections of videos featuring kids to post disturbing messages. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "YouTube’s recent algorithm change explains why your feed is full of children’s videos," 1 Aug. 2019 The exploding adult population each year reflects a lack of predators, Kern said. Adriana Brasileiro,, "Monster grasshoppers swarm Everglades," 19 July 2019 This fear is often without much reason, as few US beachgoers were likely to encounter one of these predators. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "Beachgoers in the US have real-life Jaws to fear," 2 June 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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Statistics for predator

Last Updated

6 Sep 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).


to make a temporary encampment

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