prey

noun
\ ˈprā How to pronounce prey (audio) \
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

Algae that clings to the bottom of sea ice blooms in spring, dies and sinks, sending an infusion of food to clams, snails and sea worms on the ocean floor — the prey of gray whales, walruses and bearded seals. Dan Joling, The Seattle Times, "Pace of Bering Sea changes startles scientists," 16 Apr. 2019 Fins can be seen splashing in the water, as if the pair were both briefly tugging at the creature, before the bigger shark swims away with the prey. Jennifer Earl, Fox News, "Great white shark kills dolphin, loses meal to even bigger shark," 17 Aug. 2018 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 / 2:55 How a longtime Idaho bear hunter became the preyAdvertisement Boise County hunter Marvin Jennings suffered severe wounds from a black bear that attacked him after being shot by Jennings’ uncle on May 28. Scott Berson, miamiherald, "A polar bear started to 'stalk' his children. He died after telling the kids to run for it.," 5 July 2018 But with a top speed of 15 mph and a one-charge range of about 15 miles, there is no chance for the prey to outrun the predator. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Electric scooters have taken over Indianapolis and they can smell fear," 2 July 2018 Too often, black people become the unwitting prey of law enforcement officers who disproportionately feast on black bodies. Michael Harriot, The Root, "All Black People Are Victims of Police Brutality," 26 June 2018 Many of the avian species around the Bay breed on or close to the ground, and the cats prey on them at their most vulnerable moments — sitting on their eggs or caring for their young. David Streitfeld, New York Times, "As Google Feeds Cats, Owl Lovers Cry Foul," 26 May 2018 The prey should be no more than 2/3 the length of the trap. Lyndsey Matthews, Good Housekeeping, "How to Make a Carnivorous Bog Planter," 9 May 2016 Potassium helps promote vigorous growth and hardiness, so a deficit may result in wimpy fruit or spindly plants that fall prey to pests and diseases. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "Here's How to Understand Fertilizer Numbers and Letters," 21 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

However, Holocaust researchers have also collected ample evidence of Polish villagers who murdered Jews fleeing the Nazis, or Polish blackmailers who preyed on the Jews for financial gain and stole their property. Aron Heller, The Seattle Times, "Israel hosts east European leaders after summit scrapped," 19 Feb. 2019 As gross as the man who preys on Morrigan is, Moran’s voice always sparkles and fizzes. Constance Grady, Vox, "The 16 best books I read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 But then there have been the con artists, greedy money grabbers and others who prey on the emotions of generosity and compassion. Elizabeth Llorente, Fox News, "Sometimes GoFundMe goes right, sometimes very wrong ... and sometimes, way off the rails," 13 Sep. 2018 Don’t let the bushy coats fool you: The stars of this documentary, arctic wolves, are shrewd and dangerous hunters who prey on musk oxen, animals much bigger than them. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Wednesday: ‘American Crime Story’ and ‘Riverdale’," 17 Jan. 2018 He's been preying on the children of Greendale for years, preserving their souls in wax and using those figures to decorate his otherwise wholesome Santa display. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 18 Dec. 2018 In my opinion, Amazon is preying on the work-life balance issue that the military has, and feeds off the rigid order the Army teaches. Chavie Lieber, Vox, "The human costs of Black Friday, explained by a former Amazon warehouse manager," 20 Nov. 2018 But an opportunistic gray squirrel named Sciuridae, played with gleeful scene-stealing bravado by two-time Tony nominee Brad Oscar, preys on Scurius’ prejudices. Pam Kragen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "La Jolla Playhouse's apocalyptic 'Squirrels' a dark, funny look at prejudice," 14 June 2018 For years, phone scammers have preyed on older adults by requesting their Medicare numbers, giving various reasons for doing so. Kaiser Health News, OregonLive.com, "What to watch for with new Medicare cards arriving soon," 30 Apr. 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

17 May 2019

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 How to pronounce prey (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on prey

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with prey

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for prey

Spanish Central: Translation of prey

Nglish: Translation of prey for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of prey for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about prey

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one that collects or salvages junk

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