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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

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 ?
Preyer added that he planned to write a letter once again to Carter, to remind the president of the earlier request for a policy statement on executive privilege.
Preyer and McCloskey merely received acknowledgments of their request from the assistant to the president for congressional liaison, Frank Moore.
Letter, Representatives Richardson Preyer and Paul N.
Letter, Representative Richardson Preyer to Robert J.
Inspired by his work, Preyer supplies a detailed study of the building from several points of view: historical, iconographical, typological, and stylistic.
Preyer demonstrates that while they kept a number of important spaces from the preceding building, including the entrance and the focus on Via de Benci, they enlarged the space of the salone even at the risk of weakening the fabric of the palace.
In her treatment of the exterior, Preyer focuses on the typology of the facade.
This statement was made just before a group of officers repeatedly tasered Preyer.
Arrested on May 31, 2006 on aggravated battery charges, Preyer was being held in Escambia County jail on charges of failure to appear in court for an arraignment.
The Escambia jail facility was made aware that Preyer suffered from a mental disorder after he was jailed on May 31, when Preyer told a jail official that he took medication for schizoid affective disorder.
CONTACT: Rich Preyer, 910-545-2203, or Steve Holcombe, 910-545-2211, or Stan Haines, 910-545-2100, all of Vanguard Cellular Systems, Inc.
CONTACT: Rich Preyer, 910-545-2203, or Stan Haines, 910-545-2100, both of Vanguard Cellular Systems/
CONTACT: Stan Haines, 910-545-2100, or Rich Preyer, 910-545-2203, both of Vanguard Cellular/
CONTACT: Rich Preyer, 910-545-2203 or Stan Haines, 910-545-2100, both of Vanguard Cellular Systems/