prey (up)on (someone or something)

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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.
See also: 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

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 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
References in periodicals archive ?
on her and they have sex, Reid Crown girls prey upon them and deceive She said there hide, threaten or or alcohol.
It's a time when outlaws, fueled by cruelty they became addicted to during the War Between the States, roam and prey upon anyone unfortunate enough to cross their trail.
Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals, like those who have been released by the Travis County Sheriff, will be set free to prey upon our communities.
With crushing predictability, odious buffoon Nigel Farage and his cabal of UKIP clowns have launched a series of election posters that prey upon fear of immigrants.
Auguste von Bayern from the University of Oxford said that they assumed that the ability to fly and prey upon or being preyed upon from the air is likely to require pronounced spatial rotation abilities and may be a candidate trait influencing the animals' performance in rotation and translocation tasks.
This terrible addiction is fuelled by the relaxation of gambling laws and licensed and unlicensed money lenders who prey upon the vulnerable.
I DON'T know how you sleep at night You mindless, cowardly thugs If I was God I'd raise my foot And squash you all like bugs Your latest helpless victim Was ninety years of age Your acts of random violence Just fill us all with rage What a brave young man you are To prey upon the old Your heart is dead and full of lead Where his was full of gold I hope that in the years to come Your life will bring you grief That you will get what you deserve You cowardly, murderous thief If there's any justice Your time will surely come For none of you deserve to live Among us.
Periodic dewatering and modification of habitat are likely to remain the biggest threats to native fishes in New Mexico, but the ability of age-0 smallmouth bass to prey upon fish [greater than or equal to] 68% of their total length should raise concerns about potential consequences of stocking nonnative species of gamefish in waters with threatened and endangered species.
A proper mechanism should be developed so that the protectors do not take advantage and prey upon victims.
They are voracious predators that prey upon our native fish as well as compete with them for food.
Under a grant from Congress, GoodKnight.org is distributing free character development/abduction prevention educator kits in the hope of protecting children from individuals who wish to prey upon them.
The poor prey upon each other for basic needs; the rich plunder for sport.
The company recently conducted a series of information security assessments for several U.S.-based companies.The company used "social engineering" techniques, which prey upon human emotions such as fear, trust, kindness and greed, to trick employees into sharing critical information, such as network IDs and passwords, which could be used to access sensitive company data.
Plus, sperm whales live at that depth--and sperm whales prey upon giant squids.