[ pruh-fesh-uh-nl-iz-uhm ]
/ prəˈfɛʃ ə nlˌɪz əm /
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professional character, spirit, or methods.
the standing, practice, or methods of a professional, as distinguished from an amateur.
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of professionalism

First recorded in 1855–60; professional + -ism
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does professionalism mean?

Professionalism most commonly means the state or practice of doing one’s job with skill, competence, ethics, and courtesy.

Professionalism is based on the word professional, which is commonly used as an adjective to describe someone who works in this way—someone who shows professionalism. Professionalism is shown by people who take their work seriously and respect the people they work with.

The word professionalism can also be used to distinguish the practices of a person who gets paid for their work from those of an amateur (which is someone who does it for fun).

Example: That level of skill, dedication, and professionalism are exactly what we’re looking for in our next production manager.

Where does professionalism come from?

The first records of the word professionalism come from the mid-1880s. The word professional is recorded earlier, in the mid-1700s. It comes from the word profession, referring to one’s occupation—what one does for work. The root of all these words is the Latin professiō, meaning “public acknowledgment.” (The English words profess and professor are related.)

Someone who shows professionalism is good at their job—they’re skilled and competent—but the word often implies more than that. People described as true professionals conduct themselves in a way that shows respect for those they work with, as well as anyone else they might interact with as part of their job, such as customers. The word is often used in reference to those with experience and a knowledge of how to act in the workplace, but you don’t need to have experience to show professionalism.

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What are some other forms of professionalism?

  • professional (adjective, noun)
  • professionally (adverb)
  • professionalist (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with professionalism


What are some words that often get used in discussing professionalism?

How is professionalism used in real life?

Professionalism is always used positively. It’s often used in job listings seeking an employee who will work with professionalism and in compliments about such workers.



Try using professionalism!

Which of the following words does NOT describe someone who is showing professionalism?

A. courteous
B. respectful
C. reliable
D. inconsiderate

How to use professionalism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for professionalism

/ (prəˈfɛʃənəˌlɪzəm) /

the methods, character, status, etc, of a professional
the pursuit of an activity for gain or livelihood

Derived forms of professionalism

professionalist, noun, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012