hunt for someone / hunt someone down

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Ume

Banned
Japanese
The M-W Learner's Dictionary says:
hunt
to search for something or someone very carefully and thoroughly
---often + for
- The police are hunting for a killer.
- He's hunting for a new apartment.
The OALD says:
hunt somebody down or hunt down somebody
to search for somebody until you catch or find them, especially in order to punish or harm them
- The President warned that terrorists would be hunted down.
Killers have to be punished, so shouldn't for be "down"?
 
  • Wishfull

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    The M-W Learner's Dictionary says:
    hunt
    to search for something or someone very carefully and thoroughly
    ---often + for
    - The police are hunting for a killer.
    - He's hunting for a new apartment.
    The OALD says:
    hunt somebody down or hunt down somebody
    to search for somebody until you catch or find them, especially in order to punish or harm them
    - The President warned that terrorists would be hunted down.
    Killers have to be punished, so shouldn't for be "down"?
    Hi.
    I think the most important difference between for and down would be that down has the green letters connotation, rather than your pink letter.
     

    MrYeahbut

    Senior Member
    USA- English
    To me, when the police are 'hunting for a killer', they probably don't know who the killer is.

    When they 'hunt down a killer', it is generally someone or something specific...that is they know who the killer is.

    This is not always true, of course, but you could use it as a guide.

    Hope that helps you.
     

    Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I would see the difference based upon how you convey the style of hunting. It conveys to me that one who is hunted for is known and the hunt is not going to be particularly difficult. If the usage, however, involves an unknown suspect and the likelyhood of a long passage of time the suspect is going to be hunted down. Interesting that today I gave my 4 grade pupils a pronunciation lesson on the word dogged. In a tenacious search the word that best describes the effort is dogged, pronounced dog-ed, as two separate syllables.
     

    jimreilly

    Senior Member
    American English
    Certainly the two expressions overlap. But "hunt down" seems to have more serious (often negative) connotations for the person being hunted down.

    We're hunting for the winner in the million dollar sweepstakes (not "we're hunting the winner down"). We're hunting for the criminal (bad enough for the criminal) and we're going to hunt him down no matter how long it takes (seems a little worse for the criminal, or at least it seems we're very determined!).
     

    wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Dear all,

    It seems to me that the difference between "hunt down" and "hunt for" is that the former (hunt down) conveys the thing or person has been caught or found, and the latter (hunt for) says they haven't been found or caught yet.
    Is the following understanding correct?
    The police hunted for a killer. → The killer was still at large. You don't know what happened in the end.
    The police hunted down a killer. → The killer was captured.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Dear all,

    It seems to me that the difference between "hunt down" and "hunt for" is that the former (hunt down) conveys the thing or person has been caught or found, and the latter (hunt for) says they haven't been found or caught yet.
    Is the following understanding correct?
    Yes, in the past tense, that is correct, but not in general.
    I will hunt you. I'm going to look for you.
    I will hunt you down. I'm going to look really hard for you and not give up looking.
     

    wanabee

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Yes, in the past tense, that is correct, but not in general.
    I will hunt you. I'm going to look for you.
    I will hunt you down. I'm going to look really hard for you and not give up looking.
    Thank you very much, Myridon!
    I see. However, I can't help thinking of this meaning when I look at the expression "hunt someone down";
    I will hunt you down. → I will search very hard for you and pin you down!

    Maybe my misunderstanding comes from how I take "down" in "hunt down" to mean.
    I would appreciate any help.
     

    221BBaker

    Senior Member
    Spanish (Canarian) & Catalan
    The way I understand these expressions, to hunt for someone or something is to seek someone out thoroughly. To hunt someone down would imply the hunt as in the previous sentence; however, in this case the intention of the hunter is always to punish, harm or capture the hunted.
    You may hunt for an apartment; you never hunt an apartment down.

    Furthermore, in an example such as ‘The police are hunting a killer’, I infer the police are hunting him down anyway, but the sentence does not make it clear, whereas ‘hunting someone down’ does clarify the intentions of the hunters.

    Bear in mind I'm not a native speaker, and that I'm only giving an opinion based on what I have heard. Does it make sense?
     
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