prey

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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

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

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 ?
When preying on bivalves, naticids often prefer to drill through the umbo, which is surprising given that this is typically the thickest region of the shell.
Feeding and growth rates of Polinices duplicatus preying on Mya arenaria at Barnstable Harbour, Massachusetts.
Mechanics of prey size preference in the gastropod Neverita didyma preying on the bivalve Ruditapes philippinarum.
notata preying upon neonate F virgata (< 24 h old crawlers) exhibited a type III functional response with an average consumption of 157.
notata preying on neonate nymphs exhibited a type III functional response, indicating that the predator can have a significant impact on this particular life stage.
A change in foraging behavior from crushing small prey items to peeling or prying open large prey items has also been observed as crab predators transition from small to larger prey items, such as Panopeus herbstii preying on Mercenaria mercenaria (Whetstone & Eversole 1981), or Hemigrapsus nudus preying on Littorina sitkana (Yarnada & Boulding 1998).
Likewise, the LR50 was larger for Pardosa preying on Hogna than it was for Pardosa cannibalism (Fig.
Density-dependent foraging and mutual interference in blue crabs preying upon infaunal clams.
Effect of temperature on the functional response and foraging behavior of the sand shrimp Crangon septemspinosa preying on juvenile winter flounder Pseudopleuronectes americanus.
edax forages strictly at night and, in terms of prey capture and web retention, was more efficient when preying on Lepidoptera.