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- (archaic) Anything, such as goods, etc., taken or got by violence; something taken by force from an enemy in war
- 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], →OCLC, Numbers 31:12:
- And they brought the captiues, and the pray, and the spoile vnto Moses and Eleazar the Priest, and vnto the Congregation of the children of Israel, vnto the campe at the plaines of Moab, which are by Iordan neere Iericho.
- That which is or may be seized by animals or birds to be devoured
- A person or thing given up as a victim.
- 1899 March, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number MI, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, […], →OCLC, part II:
- [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 […]
- 2020 November 18, Howard Johnston, “The missing 'Lincs' and the sole survivor”, in Rail, page 58:
- Being so inflexible, the railway was easy prey to road competition, and the arrival of unregulated lorry transport from farm fields to town centres quickly captured all locally generated business.
- A living thing that is eaten by another living thing.
- The rabbit was eaten by the coyote, so the rabbit is the coyote's prey.
- 2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, pages 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.
- (archaic) The act of devouring other creatures; ravage.
- The victim of a disease.
booty, anything taken by force
that which may be seized by animals
- (intransitive) To act as a predator.
- 2001, Karen Harden McCracken, The Life History of a Texas Birdwatcher, page 278:
- The ridge had been a haven for birds and small earth creatures, creeping, crawling, and hopping in a little world of balanced ecology where wild things preyed and were preyed upon […]
- “prey”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.