Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To look or inquire closely, curiously, or impertinently: was always prying into the affairs of others.
  • n. The act of prying.
  • n. An excessively or impertinently inquisitive person.
  • transitive v. To raise, move, or force open with a lever.
  • transitive v. To obtain with effort or difficulty: pried a confession out of the suspect.
  • n. Something, such as a crowbar, that is used to apply leverage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To look where one is not welcome; to be nosey.
  • v. To look closely and curiously at, peep
  • n. The act of prying
  • n. An excessively inquisitive person
  • n. A lever.
  • n. Leverage.
  • v. To use leverage to open or widen. (See also prise and prize.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A lever; also, leverage.
  • transitive v. To raise or move, or attempt to raise or move, with a pry or lever; to prize.
  • intransitive v. To peep narrowly; to gaze; to inspect closely; to attempt to discover something by a scrutinizing curiosity; -- often implying reproach.
  • n. Curious inspection; impertinent peeping.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To look closely or with scrutinizing curiosity; hence, to search curiously or impertinently into any matter; peer; peep.
  • To observe; note.
  • n. A peeping glance; peering; curious or narrow inspection.
  • n. One who pries; a prier; an inquisitive, intrusive person (with allusion to Paul Pry, a fictitious name which, in its turn, was evidently suggested by this sense of the word).
  • n. A large lever employed to raise or move heavy substances; a prize.
  • To raise or move by means of a pry; prize; bring into a desired position or condition by means of a pry: as, to pry a box open.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. to move or force, especially in an effort to get something open
  • n. a heavy iron lever with one end forged into a wedge
  • v. make an uninvited or presumptuous inquiry
  • v. be nosey
  • v. search or inquire in a meddlesome way

Etymologies

Middle English prien.
Alteration of prize3.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English pryen, prien ("to look closely, peer into, pry, spy"), from Old English *prīwan, *prēowian (“to look narrowly, to squint at”), attested by Old English beprīwan, beprēwan ("to wink"). Akin to Old English *prēowot (“closing of the eyes”), attested only in combination, compare prēowthwīl ("blink or twinkling of an eye, moment"), Old English princ ("a wink"). More at prink. (Wiktionary)
1800, back-formation from prize. ("lever"), construed as a plural noun or as a 3rd person singular verb. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Oakland police spokeswoman Cynthia Perkins said the protesters were able to get inside the building using what she termed a "pry tool."

    KansasCity.com: Front Page

  • Brissenden gave no explanation of his long absence, nor did Martin pry into it.

    Chapter 35

  • They ` re going to probably give him a consolation pry, which is going to be rap album.

    CNN Transcript Feb 6, 2006

  • MARCIANO: But his other job also is to kind of pry into health reform, so he talked to President Clinton about the possible roadblocks to health reform.

    CNN Transcript Mar 12, 2009

  • I can just see the edge and I kind of pry the frame apart and slide it out.

    Asimov's Science Fiction

  • "We've got to get some kind of pry and pry it up," announced Jack.

    The Rover Boys on Snowshoe Island or, The Old Lumberman's Treasure Box

  • No; she had not the slightest idea; it was not her business to "pry" and Mrs. Wick closed her bloodless lips with virtuous severity.

    Will Warburton

  • I know you aren't supposed to use any kind of pry bar etc (not that it would fit anyway).

    NASIOC

  • After more than 10 years of New York City - the rent, the intensity, the heat, the cold, and the inability to "pry" friends from their apartments - Rob Barber has had enough.

    Boston Phoenix - thePhoenix.com

  • Fritz Schwarz and Frank Church even met with Rockefeller to pry loose the documents being delivered to his commission.

    The Good Fight

Comments

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  • Yes! The complete quotation is on thrush (I didn't realize I had already added it).

    November 13, 2008

  • I presume the reference to Boots is to the pharmacy.

    November 13, 2008

  • But you read in a book
    That you got free in Boots
    There are lotions, there are potions
    You can take to hide your shame from all those prying eyes.


    (Lazy line painter Jane, by Belle and Sebastian)

    November 13, 2008