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prey on (one's) mind
To cause one a lot of worry, concern, or anxiety, especially for a long period of time. I know that money issues have been preying on his mind ever since the company began issuing pay cuts. I really acted like a jerk on Friday night, and it's been preying on my mind all weekend long.
fall prey to (someone or something)
To have one's vulnerability exploited by someone or something, leading to harm, destruction, or manipulation; to become a victim of someone or something. It is unfortunately very common for elderly people to fall prey to online scam artists, who take advantage of their lack of technological know-how. Many major cities have fallen prey to terrorist activity in recent months.
prey (up)on (someone or something)
1. To hunt and feed on someone or something. (Said almost exclusively of animals.) Mountain lions have been coming down into town to prey on people's pets. The rare bird preys exclusively on these rats; if the rats are eliminated, the bird will be, too.
2. By extension, to exploit, victimize, or take advantage of someone or something. There are many thieves and con-artists in the city who prey on unsuspecting tourists. These mega corporations are all too willing to prey upon the naïveté of consumers.
See also: 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.
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.
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]
fall prey to something
COMMON If you fall prey to something bad, it happens to you or you are affected by it. On the flight from Paris to Toulon, Mechiche fell prey to panic. Children in evacuation centres are falling prey to disease.
fall prey to1 be hunted and killed by. 2 be vulnerable to or overcome by.
be/fall ˈprey to something(formal) be harmed or affected by something bad: He was often prey to doubt and despair. ♢ Thousands of small businesses are falling prey to high interest rates.
Prey is an animal, a bird, etc. that is hunted, killed and eaten by another animal.
ˌprey on somebody’s ˈmind(also ˌplay on somebody’s ˈmind) worry or trouble somebody very much: The death of his father is really preying on his mind at the moment. He thinks it was his fault. ♢ The question of whether to accept the new job and move to Scotland had been playing on his mind for days.
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.
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.