From Middle English preye, prei, preyȝe, borrowed from Anglo-Norman and Old French preie, one of the variants of proie, from Latin praeda. Compare predator.
prey (countable and uncountable, plural preys)
- (archaic) Anything, such as goods, etc., taken or got by violence; something taken by force from an enemy in war
- Synonyms: spoil, booty, plunder
1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), London: […] Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981, Numbers 31:32:
And they brought the captives, and the prey, and the spoil, unto Moses, and Eleazar the priest.
- That which is or may be seized by animals or birds to be devoured
- A person or thing given up as a victim.
1899 March, Joseph Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”, in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, volume CLXV, number MI, New York, N.Y.: The Leonard Scott Publishing Company, […], OCLC 1042815524, part II: [The helmsman] steered with no end of a swagger while you were by; but if he lost sight of you, he became instantly the prey of an abject funk […] 2020 November 18, Howard Johnston, “The missing 'Lincs' and the sole survivor”, in Rail, page 58: Being so inflexible, the railway was easy prey to road competition, and the arrival of unregulated lorry transport from farm fields to town centres quickly captured all locally generated business.
- A living thing that is eaten by another living thing.
2013 May-June, William E. Conner, “An Acoustic Arms Race”, in American Scientist, volume 101, number 3, page 206-7:
Nonetheless, some insect prey take advantage of clutter by hiding in it. Earless ghost swift moths become “invisible” to echolocating bats by forming mating clusters close (less than half a meter) above vegetation and effectively blending into the clutter of echoes that the bat receives from the leaves and stems around them.
The rabbit was eaten by the coyote, so the rabbit is the coyote's prey.
- (archaic) The act of devouring other creatures; ravage.
c. 1603–1606, William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of King Lear”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act III, scene iv]:
Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, […] lion in prey.
- The victim of a disease.
booty, anything taken by force
that which may be seized by animals
- Italian: preda (it)
- Japanese: 獲物 (ja) (えもの, emono)
- Korean: 먹이 (ko) (meogi)
- Bokmål: byttedyr n
- Nynorsk: byttedyr n
- Persian: طعمه (fa) (to'me)
- Plautdietsch: Wiltfank n
- Polish: żer (pl) m, zdobycz (pl) f, pastwa (pl) f
- Portuguese: presa (pt) f
- Romanian: pradă (ro)
- Russian: добы́ча (ru) f (dobýča), еда́ (ru) f (jedá) (food), пожи́ва (ru) f (požíva)
- Scottish Gaelic: creach f
- Serbo-Croatian: plen (sh) m, plijȇn (sh) m
- Spanish: presa (es) f
- Swahili: windo (sw)
- Swedish: byte (sv)
- Ukrainian: здоби́ча f (zdobýča), здо́бич f (zdóbyč), до́бич f (dóbyč), спожи́ва f (spožýva), пожи́ва f (požýva)
prey (third-person singular simple present preys, present participle preying, simple past and past participle preyed)
- (intransitive) To act as a predator.
- 2001, Karen Harden McCracken, The Life History of a Texas Birdwatcher (page 278)
- The ridge had been a haven for birds and small earth creatures, creeping, crawling, and hopping in a little world of balanced ecology where wild things preyed and were preyed upon […]