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prey

[prey] /preɪ/
noun
1.
an animal hunted or seized for food, especially by a carnivorous animal.
2.
a person or thing that is the victim of an enemy, a swindler, a disease, etc.; gull.
3.
the action or habit of preying:
a beast of prey.
4.
Archaic. booty or plunder.
verb (used without object)
5.
to seize and devour prey, as an animal does (usually followed by on or upon):
Foxes prey on rabbits.
6.
to make raids or attacks for booty or plunder:
The Vikings preyed on coastal settlements.
7.
to exert a harmful or destructive influence:
His worries preyed upon his mind.
8.
to victimize another or others (usually followed by on or upon):
loan sharks that prey upon the poor.
Origin
1200-1250
1200-50; Middle English preye < Old French < Latin praeda booty, prey; akin to prehendere to grasp, seize (see prehension)
Related forms
preyer, noun
unpreying, adjective
Can be confused
pray, prayer, prey.
Synonyms
2. dupe, target.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for prey
  • The slow-moving creature never chases his prey but only edges towards it.
  • According to a report published today in the journal Nature, owls use mammal dung to lure prey.
  • Most fish use suction to gulp down prey.
  • Many still consider them to be vermin – pests which destroy livestock and compete with human hunters for desirable prey.
  • The bee-eater flies off, snaps up its prey and then resumes its perch.
  • But sometimes it tries too hard and falls prey to cliched story lines.
  • Overhead, small striated thornbills prey on insects in the canopy.
  • Scenes of predators with prey and similar moments of high drama dominate.
  • Another old and controversial myth relates to the supposed power of a rattlesnake to charm its prey.
  • Sick people are easy prey for get rich quick schemes.
British Dictionary definitions for prey

prey

/preɪ/
noun
1.
an animal hunted or captured by another for food
2.
a person or thing that becomes the victim of a hostile person, influence, etc
3.
beast of prey, an animal that preys on others for food
4.
bird of prey, a bird that preys on others for food
5.
an archaic word for booty1
verb (intransitive; often foll by on or upon)
6.
to hunt or seize food by killing other animals
7.
to make a victim (of others), as by profiting at their expense
8.
to exert a depressing or obsessive effect (on the mind, spirits, etc); weigh heavily (upon)
Derived Forms
preyer, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French preie, from Latin praeda booty; see predatory
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for prey
n.

mid-13c., "animal hunted for food," also "that which is taken in war," from Old French preie "booty, animal taken in the chase" (mid-12c., Modern French proie), from Latin praeda "booty, plunder, game hunted," earlier praeheda, related to prehendere "to grasp, seize" (see prehensile).

v.

c.1300, "to plunder, pillage, ravage," from prey (n.) and in part from Old French preer, earlier preder (c.1040), from Late Latin praedare, from praeda (see prey (n.)). Its sense of "to kill and devour" is attested from mid-14c. Related: Preyed; preying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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