prey

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English, from Old French preie, one of the variants of proie, from Latin praeda. Compare predator.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

prey (countable and uncountable, plural preys)

  1. (archaic) Anything, as goods, etc., taken or got by violence; anything taken by force from an enemy in war; spoil; booty; plunder.
    • Bible, Numbers xxxi. 12
      And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest.
  2. That which is or may be seized by animals or birds to be devoured; hence, a person given up as a victim.
    • Dryden
      Already sees herself the monster's prey.
    • Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
      [The helmsman] steered with no end of a swagger while you were by; but if he lost sight of you, he became instantly the prey of an abject funk []
  3. A living thing that is eaten by another living thing.
    • Bible, Job iv. ii
      The old lion perisheth for lack of prey.
    • 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7: 
      Nonetheless, some insect prey take advantage of clutter by hiding in it. Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
    The rabbit was eaten by the coyote, so the rabbit is the coyote's prey.
  4. The act of devouring other creatures; ravage.
    • Shakespeare
      Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, [] lion in prey.
  5. The victim of a disease.

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