prey

noun
\ ˈprā How to pronounce prey (audio) \
plural prey also preys

Definition of prey

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : 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
2 : the act or habit of preying
3 archaic : spoil, booty

prey

verb
preyed; preying

Definition of prey (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to seize and devour prey
b : to commit violence or robbery or fraud
2 : to have an injurious, destructive, or wasting effect worry preyed upon his mind
3 : to make raids for the sake of booty

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Other Words from prey

Verb

preyer noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for prey

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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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 The Discovery Center will carry on the institute’s outreach program featuring the four birds of prey to educate the community and promote conservation efforts. Linda Mcintosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lagoon run to raise money for new Raptor Ridge habitat," 26 Feb. 2021 The Yellowstone experience is key to his group’s arguments: Reintroduction restores balance to the ecosystem, improves wildlife habitat and will benefit hunters by thinning out weaker prey. Matthew Brown, Anchorage Daily News, "After wolves rebound across the US West, their future may be up to voters," 30 Oct. 2020 Blasing noted that like the famous T. rex, the Acrocanthosaurus (ak-ro-KAN-thə-SAWR-əs) also was an apex predator that took down its share of prey, including much larger dinosaurs. René A. Guzman, San Antonio Express-News, "Meet the T. rex of Texas that prowled the San Antonio area more than 100 million years ago, the Acrocanthosaurus," 2 Feb. 2021 Both have always been prey to ethnic and sectarian tension. The Economist, "Tales of the city The volatile history of Karachi," 6 Feb. 2021 The policy has resulted in tens of thousands of migrants living in squalid conditions along the border, often leaving them prey to violence and extortion by drug trafficking gangs. Oscar Lopez, BostonGlobe.com, "Mexico arrests police officers over massacre," 4 Feb. 2021 The researchers then dug their own artificial sand traps and saw that the prey was able to escape out of the pit when a larva wasn’t inside flinging up sand. Emily Harwitz, Science | AAAS, "How voracious antlions engineer deadly sand traps," 29 Dec. 2020 Commercial whaling has been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s, and regulators restrict the number of menhaden that fishermen can harvest to protect the prey for whales and other predators. Kate King, WSJ, "Whale Watching in New York Grows More Common," 10 Dec. 2020 And many of the women who fell prey to Samuel Little. Washington Post, "‘There wasn’t any cooperation’," 4 Dec. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The losses have highlighted the tendency of the virus to prey on older adults, those with underlying medical conditions and in places where people in close contact, like nursing homes, which have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. New York Times, "‘It’s Numbing’: Nine Retired Nuns in Michigan Die of Covid-19," 29 Jan. 2021 Post-Covid syndrome, strangely, can prey on individuals who were previously healthy and in their 30s and 40s. Shayna Skarf, STAT, "Denied treatment, some Covid long-haulers could become lifelong-haulers," 28 Jan. 2021 Crocodiles, however, also will prey on larger animals such as deer, gazelles and even buffaloes. René A. Guzman, ExpressNews.com, "Yep, San Antonio gets its share of wild alligators. On guard, Fluffy!," 26 Jan. 2021 These bacteria and fungi, like Covid-19, prey on older people, the infirm and those with compromised immune systems. New York Times, "With All Eyes on Covid-19, Drug-Resistant Infections Crept In," 27 Jan. 2021 Invasive species can prey on native wildlife, so the department has a strategy for conserving indigenous species and their habitats statewide. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "An invasive species of giant lizard has been making its way through the Southeast," 7 Dec. 2020 The case could serve as a warning to companies that prey on borrowers during the pandemic. Washington Post, "Nationstar Mortgage agrees to a $91 million settlement for mishandling foreclosures and borrowers’ payments," 8 Dec. 2020 The film’s premise arose from a simple question: If a woman in real life wanted to take revenge on men who prey on inebriated women, what would that look like? Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Promising Young Woman," 28 Dec. 2020 Threshers aren’t known to prey on adult swordfish, so Jambura and his co-authors argue that the stabbing could have been a case of two deep sea predators fighting over a meal or territory. Alex Fox, Smithsonian Magazine, "Shark Stabbed Through the Heart and a Swordfish Is to Blame," 30 Oct. 2020

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 1a

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

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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Time Traveler for prey

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for prey

Last Updated

6 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Prey.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prey. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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