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prey on (one's) mind

To cause someone 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

fall prey to (someone or something)

To have one's vulnerability exploited by someone or something, leading to harm, destruction, or manipulation. It unfortunately very common for elderly people to fall prey to scam artists online, who take advantage of their lack of technological know-how. Many major cities, once thought to be untouchable by such attacks, have been falling prey to terrorist activity in recent months.
See also: fall, prey

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.
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

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

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

fall prey to

1 be hunted and killed by. 2 be vulnerable to or overcome by.
See also: fall, prey

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

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/