prey

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Related to preyed: preyed upon, fell prey

prey on something

[for an animal] to feed on another animal as a matter of habit or preference. Owls prey on mice. Many birds prey on snakes.
See also: on, prey

prey (up)on someone or something

Fig. to take advantage of someone or something. (See also prey on something. Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) The people of that island prey on tourists and do not give them good treatment. I really don't want to seem to prey upon your kindness.
See also: on, prey

fall prey to somebody/something

to be harmed by someone or something We worry that our children will fall prey to the influence of bad kids. Patients may fall prey to dishonest salespeople who say they can cure their pain.
Usage notes: sometimes used with verbs other than fall: These people are prey to superstition, disease, and hunger.
See also: fall, prey

prey on something

also prey upon something
to kill an animal in order to eat it Spiders prey on small flies and other insects. Seals often prey upon the same fish people are trying to catch.
Usage notes: said about animals that kill other animals for food
See also: on, prey

prey on somebody

also prey upon somebody
1. to commit a crime against someone Police are looking for street criminals who prey on tourists. Gangs that prey upon small business owners in the city's Chinatown may be spreading to the suburbs.
2. to have an effect on someone Guilt preyed on him for years after the accident.
Usage notes: sometimes said about something that has an effect on people's emotions: The ads prey on our fear of being alone.
See also: on, prey

prey on somebody's mind

if something preys on someone's mind, they worry about it for a long time I lost my temper with her the other day and it's been preying on my mind ever since.
See also: mind, on, prey

prey on

1. Plunder or pillage; also, make a profit at someone else's expense, victimize. For example, Vikings preyed on the coastal towns of England, or The rich have been preying on the poor for centuries. [Late 1500s]
2. Hunt, especially in order to eat, as in Their cat preys on all the rodents in the neighborhood. [c. 1600]
3. Exert a baneful or injurious effect, as in Guilt preyed on his mind. [c. 1700]
See also: on, prey

prey on

v.
1. To hunt and kill something for food: Owls prey on mice.
2. To exploit or make a profit at the expense of someone; take advantage of someone: Pickpockets often prey on unsuspecting tourists.
3. To exert a harmful or injurious effect on something or someone: Guilt preyed on him, and eventually led him to confess.
See also: on, prey

fall prey to

To be put into such a vulnerable position as to be at risk of harm, destruction, or invasion: a person who fell prey to swindlers; did not want the country to fall prey to terrorists.
See also: fall, prey
References in periodicals archive ?
carpenteri, which was derived from Abbott [1974]) and the size ranges of naticids that preyed on them.
Although small prey items are occasionally preyed on by large predators,
Because we did not evaluate abundance of prey in the field, we could not assess whether Harris' hawks preyed on animals in an opportunistic manner, or if they selected them.
Again from the sixth row of A, it can be said that species '6' is preyed by the species (predators) 1,4,5.
It's impossible to determine whether the Brazilian spinosaur preyed on alive pterosaur or merely scavenged a carcass, Buffetaut notes.
The Bonferroni confidence intervals procedure revealed that in the dry season, the hawks preyed more on Calomys tener and less on Akodon spp.
A less vulnerable species (Eligmodontia typus, better escape ability) was preyed upon less than expected by the culpeo fox (Dusicyon culpaeus), while the behaviorally and morphologically vulnerable Akodon spp.
a) -- -- 1 Thaptomys nigrita -- -- 1 Rhagomys rufescens 1 -- 2 Total 15 27 261 (a) Species preyed on by White-tailed Hawks.
Results from the first set of experiments showed that green crabs preyed on all prey species from all size-classes in single and multiple-choice trials.
Single-choice Experiment The green crab preyed on all species and all size-classes except for large eastern oysters (25-40 mm size-class) (Fig.
Multiple-choice Experiment As observed in the single-choice experiment, green crabs preyed on all species and all size-classes (Fig, 1B).
They feed on whatever's available and have always preyed on other birds.