American Dictionary of the English Language, Vol. 2

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Author: Noah Webster

Prey

PREY, n. [L. proeda.]

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 31.

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 Ki 21.

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.

The old lion perisheth for lack of prey. Job 4.

3. Ravage; depredation.

Hog in sloth, fox in stealth, lion in prey.

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, vultures, c. rather than to insects; yet an insect feeding on other insects may be called an animal of prey.

PREY, v.i. To prey on or upon, is to rob; to plunder; to pillage.

1. To feed by violence, or to seize and devour. The wolf preys on sheep; the hawk preys on chickens.

2. To corrode; to waste gradually; to cause to pine away. Grief preys on the body and spirits; envy and jealousy prey on the health.

Language is too faint to show

His rage of love; it preys upon his life;

He pines, he sickens, he despairs, he dies.

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