Definition for PREY

PREY, n. [L. præda; It. preda; Fr. proie; Arm. preyz or preih; D. prooi. In Welsh, praiz, Ir. preit, signifies booty or spoil of cattle taken in war, also a flock or herd; preiziaw, to herd, to collect a herd, to drive off or make booty of cattle.]

  1. Spoil; booty; plunder; goods taken by force from an enemy in war. And they brought the captives and the prey and the spoil to Moses and Eleazar the priest. – Num. xxxi. In this passage, the captives are distinguished from prey. But sometimes persons are included. They [Judah] shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies. – 2 Kings xxi.
  2. That which is seized or may be seized by violence to be devoured; ravine. The eagle and the hawk dart upon their prey. She sees herself the monster's prey. – Dryden. The old lion perisheth for lack of prey. – Job iv.
  3. Ravage; depredation. Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, lion in prey. – Shak. Animal or beast of prey, is a carnivorous animal; one that feeds on the flesh of other animals. The word is applied to the larger animals, as lions, tigers, hawks, vulturs, &c. rather than to insects; yet an insect feeding on other insects may be called an animal of prey.

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