on the prowl


verb (used without object)
to rove or go about stealthily, as in search of prey, something to steal, etc.
verb (used with object)
to rove over or through in search of what may be found: The cat prowled the alleys in search of food.
act of prowling.
on the prowl, in the act of prowling; searching stealthily: The cat is on the prowl for mice.

1350–1400; Middle English prollen < ?

prowlingly, adverb
unprowling, adjective

1. roam. See lurk.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To on the prowl
World English Dictionary
prowl (praʊl)
vb (when intr, often foll by around or about)
1.  to move stealthily around (a place) as if in search of prey or plunder
2.  the act of prowling
3.  on the prowl
 a.  moving around stealthily
 b.  zealously pursuing members of the opposite sex
[C14 prollen, of unknown origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

late 14c., prollen, "move about in search of something," of unknown origin, with no known cognates. Meaning "go stealthily in search of prey" is first recorded 1580s. The noun, in on the prowl, is attested from 1803. Prowler is attested from 1519.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on the prowl

Actively looking for something, as in Their underpaid computer programmers are always on the prowl for better jobs. This idiom transfers an animal's search for prey to human pursuits that are usually less bloodthirsty. [c. 1800]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature