prey

noun
\ ˈprā \
plural prey also preys

Definition of prey 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 archaic : spoil, booty

2a : an animal taken by a predator as food

b : one that is helpless or unable to resist attack : victim was prey to his own appetites

3 : the act or habit of preying

prey

verb
preyed; preying

Definition of prey (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to make raids for the sake of booty

2a : to seize and devour prey

b : to commit violence or robbery or fraud

3 : to have an injurious, destructive, or wasting effect worry preyed upon his mind

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Other words from prey

Verb

preyer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for prey

Synonyms: Noun

chase, quarry

Antonyms: Noun

predator

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Examples of prey in a Sentence

Noun

The lion stalked its prey. The bird circled above looking for prey. The seals are easy prey for sharks. Too often elderly people are easy prey for swindlers and other criminals.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

By falling prey to it and staying silent, council would shirk its responsibility to explain to voters how corrosive the union’s demands truly are to the public’s interests. Brian Chasnoff, San Antonio Express-News, "Mayor trying to rope in council to oppose amendments," 28 June 2018 Toucans are not native to South Florida, and Ruggieri had worried that Tiki would fall prey to an owl or hawk. Rafael Olmeda, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Tiki the wayward toucan returned to Flamingo Gardens," 21 June 2018 Greensight’s software can pinpoint areas that may not be receiving enough water, or are falling prey to a fungal disease that can discolor the turf, and display images on a smartphone or laptop. Scott Kirsner, BostonGlobe.com, "How golf startups are bringing innovation to a tradition-steeped game," 25 May 2018 Although the shares of HelloFresh, which debuted on Frankfurt’s stock exchange in November, have risen by 24%, analysts are concerned that both services may fall prey to competition not from rival startups, but from big grocers. The Economist, "Upstart meal-kit companies may need a new recipe for growth," 12 Apr. 2018 Two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef have fallen prey to the condition over the past few years. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "Floating Sunscreen-Like Film Could Protect the Great Barrier Reef," 27 Mar. 2018 Thousands of foreigners in Guatemala have fallen prey to fraudulent immigration schemes linked to government agencies. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Kremlin Revenge in Guatemala," 25 Mar. 2018 But there is much to learn about the dynamics of this predator-prey relationship. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Can the walleye population rebound in McDermott Lake if bass and panfish are reduced?," 30 June 2018 And do not admonish those of us who refuse to make anymore space for Black men, dead or alive, who prey on women. refinery29.com, "XXXtentacion & The Dangers Of Honoring Black Men Unconditionally," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Here’s the deal: By rule in some circumstances — and by tradition in others — premier venture capital firms don’t touch the industries that prey upon our worst angels. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "What’s so wrong with Silicon Valley investing in sin?," 9 July 2018 Last June, a Pennsylvania man was fined $3,500 after sending Furadan, the brand name carbofuran was previously sold under, to workers at his New York farm and instructing them to pour it on sheep carcasses to kill hawks that had preyed on his lambs. Karin Brulliard And Dana Hedgpeth, baltimoresun.com, "Thirteen bald eagles were found dead in a field in Maryland. This is what killed them.," 20 June 2018 Even so, prosecutors in New York said Moseley ran an exploitative payday lending operation that preyed on financially vulnerable consumers seeking short-term loans. Steve Vockrodt, kansascity, "Another Kansas City payday lender is off to prison, this time for 10 years," 12 June 2018 And there are also blue herons and egrets that might prey on the small hatchlings. Frank Abderholden, Lake County News-Sun, "'Turtle champions' determined to rebuild endangered Blanding's population in Lake County area," 30 May 2018 Since the late 1980s, critics have argued that the act limits industry and also hurts ranchers and loggers, for instance, by preventing ranchers from shooting wolves that prey on their livestock (a prohibition that has now largely been repealed). Jennifer Kahn, New York Times, "Should Some Species Be Allowed to Die Out?," 13 Mar. 2018 As Doug Tallamy illustrates in his book Bringing Nature Home, native plants attract many times more insects than their exotic counterparts—which in turn brings more of the animals that prey on those insects (toads included). Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "5 Ways To Attract Toads To Your Garden (And Why You’d Totally Want To)," 16 May 2017 Trigorin’s success is the envy of Konstantin, who soon finds his sweetheart, Nina Zarechnaya (Saoirse Ronan), is lured by the preying Trigorin. Jake Coyle, Detroit Free Press, "Review: ‘The Seagull’ trips up another director," 15 June 2018 His rivals, notably Newsom, seized on Villaraigosa’s association with the company, saying the multilevel marketing company preys on communities of color and lower-income families. Seema Mehta, latimes.com, "Villaraigosa reflects after a bruising loss in California governor's race," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'prey.' 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 prey

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for prey

Noun

Middle English preie, from Anglo-French, from Latin praeda; akin to Latin prehendere to grasp, seize — more at get

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French preier, from Latin praedari, from praeda

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Statistics for prey

Last Updated

20 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for prey

The first known use of prey was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for prey

prey

noun

English Language Learners Definition of prey

: an animal that is hunted or killed by another animal for food

: someone who is easily harmed or affected in a bad way by someone or something

prey

noun
\ ˈprā \

Kids Definition of prey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an animal that is hunted or killed by another animal for food

2 : a person that is helpless and unable to escape attack : victim

prey

verb
preyed; preying

Kids Definition of prey (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to hunt and kill for food The dogs survived by preying on small game.

2 : to have a harmful effect Fears prey on my mind.

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Comments on prey

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