prey (up)on (someone or something)

(redirected from prey upon someone)

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 (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