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

No wonder, then, that everyone from PewDiePie to H3H3 Productions have publicly fallen prey to, or are on the brink of, burnout. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "YouTube is failing its creators," 21 Sep. 2018 Workers who don’t switch companies fall prey to a separate temptation: 401(k) loans. Anne Tergesen, WSJ, "401(k) or ATM? Automated Retirement Savings Prove Easy to Pluck Prematurely," 10 Aug. 2018 The presentation turned out to be run by Executive Success Programs, the consumer-facing branch of the now notorious cult Nxivm, and India Oxenberg soon fell prey to it. Doree Shafrir, Town & Country, "Catherine Oxenberg on Her Fight to Save Her Daughter from a Terrifying Cult," 9 Aug. 2018 And in the midst of this, another body blow: the death by suicide of her second daughter, Susanna, who had fallen prey to paralyzing depression. Eve Macsweeney, Vogue, "In A Life of My Own, One of the Great Biographers Turns the Focus on Herself," 20 July 2018 How did so many people — high-achieving, privileged people with big goals and their entire lives ahead of them — apparently fall prey to this? Amelia Harnish, refinery29.com, ""At This Point We Are In Despair": One Woman's Quest To Bring Her Brother Home From NXIVM," 29 June 2018 The Moroun enterprise started obtaining parts of the station property in the early 1990s, and has owned it all since 1995, facing significant criticism through the years as the building decayed and fell prey to vandals. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Exclusive: Bill Ford shares vision for Corktown," 17 June 2018 Villella, however, was also in charge in 2012 when the ballet fell prey to a $1.5 million-deficit that threatened to bankrupt the company, and he was likely pushed out by the board. Jose Lambiet, miamiherald, "Ballet founder asks court for OK to include Edward Villella in memoir | Miami Herald," 16 May 2018 Meanwhile, two more calves in Northern California fell prey to wolves in 2017 and one adult cow is believed to have been killed by the pack hunters. Peter Fimrite, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wolves in Northern California aren’t just loping through anymore; they’re here to stay," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

When Larry Nassar preyed on my daughter and hundreds of other young women, Bill Schuette stepped forward. Kaitlyn Schallhorn, Fox News, "Michigan gubernatorial candidate joined by Nassar victim's parents in latest campaign ads," 19 Sep. 2018 On the campaign trail, Mr. Salvini had already depicted a world in which migrant drug dealers preyed on wayward teenagers in an increasingly drug-addled country. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "This Italian Town Once Welcomed Migrants. Now, It’s a Symbol for Right-Wing Politics," 7 July 2018 But the Harrison prosecutors describe preyed on the vulnerable. Nestor Ramos, BostonGlobe.com, "Shaun Harrison and a litany of betrayals," 18 May 2018 The conurbano has become home to an underclass preyed on by drug gangs and dirty cops. The Economist, "Mauricio Macri fights Argentina’s tradition of handouts for votes," 22 Mar. 2018 People started dumping the lionfish in South Florida waters and the fish began multiplying, preying on native species and ruining coral reefs. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Wanted dead, not alive: the lionfish. You can make $5,000 if you get rid of them," 20 June 2018 In December 2010, agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed near Rio Rico, Arizona, while trying to arrest a group of armed people who had been preying on migrants. Washington Post, "Border chief: Agent shot at close range in stable condition," 13 June 2018 By failing to notify the state Medical Board, law enforcement, or patients, the university allowed Dr. Tyndall to keep his medical license, continue preying on women … and escape the consequences of his abuse. Steve Lopez, latimes.com, "A string of scandals, but head still not rolling at USC," 23 May 2018 Bill Forsyth, a retired Kent County prosecutor, was hired in January by state Attorney General Bill Schuette to serve as a special prosecutor to investigate how Nassar was able to prey on girls and young women on the East Lansing campus for so long. Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press, "William Strampel was the fox guarding Larry Nassar's henhouse at MSU, prosecutors say," 27 Mar. 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

15 Nov 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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