Pronunciation Noun


  1. (archaic) Anything, as goods, etc., taken or got by violence; anything taken by force from an enemy in war
    Synonyms: spoil, booty, plunder
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Numbers 31:32 ↗:
      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.
    • Already sees herself the monster's prey.
    • 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 1042815524 ↗, 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 {{...}
  3. A living thing that is eaten by another living thing.
    • 1611, King James Version, Job iv. ii
      The old lion perisheth for lack of prey.
    The rabbit was eaten by the coyote, so the rabbit is the coyote's prey.
  4. The act of devouring other creatures; ravage.
    • c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358 ↗, [Act III, scene iv]:
      Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, […] lion in prey.
  5. The victim of a disease.
Translations Translations Translations
  • German: Beute
  • Italian: squartamento
  • Russian: же́ртва

prey (preys, present participle preying; past and past participle preyed)

  1. (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 […]
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