prey


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be 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 be prey to online scam artists, who take advantage of their lack of technological know-how. Many major cities have been prey to terrorist activity in recent months.
See also: prey

easy prey

slang An easy target, typically for criticism or deception. When I'm with my family, I'm easy prey because I'm the youngest. Julia is easy prey—we can get her to help us with this prank.
See also: easy, prey

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.
See also: fall, prey

prey (up)on (someone or something)

1. Of a predatory animal, to hunt and feed on another animal. Mountain lions have been coming down into town to prey on people's pets. You can tell that this bird preys upon insects by the shape of its beak.
2. 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 megacorporations are all too willing to prey upon consumers.
3. 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 him ever since the company began issuing pay cuts. I really acted like a jerk on Friday night, and the guilt of it has been preying upon me all weekend long.
See also: prey

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.
See also: mind, on, prey
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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.
See also: fall, prey, something
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

fall prey to

1 be hunted and killed by. 2 be vulnerable to or overcome by.
See also: fall, prey
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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.
See also: fall, prey, something

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.
See also: mind, on, prey
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
heros has a diet breadth spanning 20 species of benthic molluscs, for a total of 24 reported prey species (16 bivalves and 8 gastropod species) across its entire geographic distribution (Clements et al.
Marketing manager Liz Gunn said:"Our bird of prey themed week takes place until Sunday, August 4.
The 7th Prey Lang Monitoring Report by the Prey Lang Community Network - a grassroots movement working to preserve Prey Lang Forest - was a collaborative effort between activists from Kratie, Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Stung Treng provinces.
'Prey's free features include device tracking and security actions such as the remote screen lock, the alarm, and message alert.
For effective feeding by larval fish, zooplankton prey should be available at a certain critical density and size, in order to promote survivorship and growth at early stages (Juanes, 1994; Cunha & Planas, 1999).
"All these dinosaurs were living at the same time and place, so it is important to know if they were competing for food resources or if they were aiming for different prey," says Angelica Torices of Universidad de La Rioja, Spain.
For a study in the journal Ecology Letters, researchers reviewed 109 studies covering the interactions of 47 different prey species and 93 predator species.
Carnivorous plants consume insect prey to supplement soil sources for nutrients such as nitrogen or phosphorus (Juniper et al., 1989).
Large carnivores often apply significant selective forces on prey assemblages as an explicit result of predation (Hayward et al.
Bethesda's latest title Prey demo will be available on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 starting April 27.
The Japanese scops owl (Otus semitorques) and Ural owl (Strix uralensis), found in the forests of northeastern China, differ in body size and foraging tactics, and are thus expected to prey on different rodent species.
Other prey were identified with the aid of a reference collection maintained by the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon.
According to the Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT), animals search, capture, and consume prey containing the maximum nutritional value, spending the least energy as possible during this process (MacArthur & Pianka, 1966; Pyke, 1984).