Word Confusion: Praise v Prays v Preys

Posted December 18, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Give praise that he no longer preys on that young girl who prays every night for help.

Pope Francis may have started his reign with praise from the public for his attitude toward pedophile priests, but pray no longer, for he is back to appointing bishops and priests who prey on the innocent. He does appear to be part of a “popular” multitude what with politicians, Hollywood, and the guy on the street who preys on those they perceive as weaker than them in this trio of heterographs.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Praise Prays Preys
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: praise, prays, and preys; Merriam-Webster: praise; The Free Dictionary: praise

Members of the Pentecostal church praising the Lord.

“Pentecostals Praising”, April 1941, by Russell Lee is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Praise the Lord!

Dr. Mordica Johnson and family sitting around a food-laden table  saying grace before Thanksgiving dinner

“Saying Grace Before Thanksgiving Dinner”, 26 November 1942, by photographer Gordon Parks, 1912–2006, is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

My family prays before diving into Thanksgiving dinner as well.

Tiger lying down in sparse ground with its teeth around the neck of a deer

“The Tiger Strikes” is PawanJaidka’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Deer is but one type of prey on which the tiger preys.

Part of Grammar:
Noun; Verb, transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: praises
Past tense or past participle: praised
Gerund or present participle: praising

Third person present verb for pray

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Past tense or past participle: prayed
Gerund or present participle: praying

Third person present verb for prey

Noun; Verb, intransitive

Plural for the noun: prey
Past tense or past participle: preyed
Gerund or present participle: preying

The expression of approval or admiration for someone or something

  • The expression of respect and gratitude as an act of worship

The act of expressing approval or admiration

  • Commendation
  • Laudation

The offering of grateful homage in words or song, as an act of worship

The state of being approved or admired

[Archaic] A reason or ground for praise or a merit

[Archaic] One who is praised

Verb, intransitive:
To express praise

Verb, transitive:
To express approval or admiration of

  • Commend
  • Extol

To offer grateful homage to God or a deity, as in words or song

Verb, intransitive:
Address a solemn request or expression of thanks to a deity, other object of worship, or a person

  • Wish or hope strongly for a particular outcome or situation

Verb, transitive:
Address a solemn request or expression of thanks to a deity, other object of worship, or a person

To offer devout petition, praise, thanks, prayer, etc., to God or an object of worship

To bring, put, etc., by praying

To make petition or entreaty for

  • Crave

To enter into spiritual communion with God or an object of worship through prayer

An animal that is hunted and killed by another for food

  • A person or thing easily injured or taken advantage of
  • [Archaic] Plunder or booty
  • [In biblical use] A prize

The action or habit of preying

Verb, intransitive:
Prey on, prey upon

Hunt and kill for food

  • Take advantage of
  • Exploit or injure
  • Cause constant trouble and distress to
  • To victimize another or others

To make raids or attacks for booty or plunder

The audience was full of praise for the whole production.

Let us all give praise to God.

Raise your voices in a hymn of praise to God.

The king lived in praise for many years.

She sought the words of praise and encouragement that would help her to put heart into her venture.

Jane deserved praise, even adulation, but I was unable to utter it, trained as I had been.

Rebecca’s heart beat high at this sweet praise from her hero’s lips.

Verb, intransitive:
“Praise you, Lord,” the priest intoned.

Praise be to God.

Verb, transitive:
Critics praised her as both an actor and director.

A good teacher praises students when they do well.

We praise God for your safe arrival.

People gather in churches to praise the Lord.

‘We praise God for past blessings.

Verb, intransitive:
The whole family prays for Michael night and day.

After several days of rain, Joe prays for sun.

Jane prays that James wouldn’t notice.

Verb, transitive:
Mary prays to God this is true.

She must pray this soul into heaven.

She prays his forgiveness.

“John, Lena prays to be allowed to go,” his wife said with a pleading look.

The kestrel is ready to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

He was easy prey for the two con men.

Those Spanish ships laden with gold are excellent prey.

Anyone can be prey for a sexual offender.

Verb, intransitive:
A small bird preys on insect pests.

This is a mean type of theft by ruthless people preying on the elderly.

The problem preys on my mind.

The fox preys on the rabbit.

The Vikings preyed on coastal settlements.

His worries preyed upon his mind.

That damn loan shark preys upon the poor in the neighborhood.

“This one is ugly for sure, a resistant-to-almost-everything bacteria that preys on the hospitalized patient.” – Kent Sepkowitz, “Why I’m Not Worried About Dying From a Superbug, and You Shouldn’t Be, Either“, The Daily Beast, 8 March 2013

Adjective: half-praised, half-praising, praiseful, praiseless, praiseworthy, self-praising, unpraised, unpraiseful, unpraising
Adverb: praisefully, praiseworthyily
Noun: praiser, praiseworthiness, self-praise, superpraise
Verb, transitive: outpraise, outpraised, outpraising, repraise, repraised, repraising, superpraise, superpraised, superpraising
Adjective: prayerful, unpraying
Adverb: pray, prayingly
Noun: prayer

Verb, transitive: outpray
Adjective: unpreying
Noun: preyer
History of the Word:
Middle English (also in the sense of set a price on, attach value to) and is from the Old French preisier meaning to prize, praise, from the late Latin pretiare, which is from the Latin pretium meaning price. Middle English in the sense of ask earnestly, which is from the Old French preier, from the late Latin precare, which is an alteration of the Latin precari meaning entreat. Middle English (also denoting plunder taken in war):

  • The noun is from the Old French preie, from the Latin praeda meaning booty
  • The verb is from the Old French preier, based on the Latin praedari meaning seize as plunder, which is from praeda

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Pope Francis in 2015 in the Casa Rosada (Argentina Presidency of the Nation) under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

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