Pray or Prey?

What is the difference between pray and prey?

To pray means to address God or an object of worship (to say a prayer)

To prey on means to hunt for (verb).
Prey is the object of an attack (noun).

Pray and Prey

Occasionally, there is confusion over the words pray and prey. This most commonly occurs with the following terms:


The word pray is a verb which means to address God or another deity or object of worship. In other words, it means to say a prayer.



The word prey can be a verb or a noun. As a verb, to prey on something means to hunt for something, or to exploit something (usually a person). As a noun, prey is the thing being hunted or exploited.


A praying mantis is named after the way it holds its hands in a prayer position. Of course, it preys on its victims, but that's not where its name comes from.

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Glossary of easily confused words Glossary of common errors Glossary of grammatical terms What are nouns? What are verbs?