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  1. the use of personal characteristics or behavior patterns to make generalizations about a person, as in gender profiling.
  2. the use of these characteristics to determine whether a person may be engaged in illegal activity, as in racial profiling.


  1. the outline or contour of the human face, especially the face viewed from one side.
  2. a picture or representation of the side view of a head.
  3. an outlined view, as of a city or mountain.
  4. an outline of an object, as a molding, formed on a vertical plane passed through the object at right angles to one of its principal horizontal dimensions.
  5. a drawing or the like representing this.
  6. Surveying. a vertical section of the ground surface taken parallel to a survey line.Compare cross section(def 6).
  7. a verbal, arithmetical, or graphic summary or analysis of the history, status, etc., of a process, activity, relationship, or set of characteristics: a biochemical profile of a patient's blood; a profile of national consumer spending.
  8. an informal biography or a concisely presented sketch of the life and character of a person.
  9. Digital Technology. the personal details, images, user statistics, social media timeline, etc., that an individual creates and associates with a username or online account.
  10. a set of characteristics or qualities that identify a type or category of person or thing: a profile of a typical allergy sufferer.
  11. the look, configuration, or lines of something: cars with a modern profile.
  12. degree of noticeability; visibility.
  13. Psychology. a description of behavioral and personality traits of a person compared with accepted norms or standards.
  14. Theater. a flat stage property or scenic piece cut from a firm, thin material, as of beaverboard or plywood, and having an irregular edge resembling the silhouette of a natural object.
  15. (in a gear) the outline of either end of a tooth.
  16. Naval Architecture. a longitudinal elevation or section of a vessel.Compare outboard profile.
verb (used with object), pro·filed, pro·fil·ing.
  1. to draw a profile of.
  2. to produce or present a history, description, or analysis of: The magazine will profile the candidate in its next issue.

Origin of profile

1650–60; (noun) < Italian prof(f)ilo, noun derivative of profilare “to delineate, outline,” equivalent to pro- pro-1 + -filare, derivative of filo “line, thread” < Latin fīlum
Related formspro·fil·er, nounhalf-pro·file, noun

Synonyms for profile

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for profiling

Contemporary Examples of profiling

British Dictionary definitions for profiling


  1. the practice of categorizing people and predicting their behaviour according to particular characteristics such as race or ageracial profiling


  1. a side view, outline, or representation of an object, esp of a human face or head
  2. a view or representation of an object, esp a building, in contour or outline
  3. a short biographical sketch of a subject
  4. a graph, table, or list of scores representing the extent to which a person, field, or object exhibits various tested characteristics or tendenciesa population profile
  5. a vertical section of soil from the ground surface to the parent rock showing the different horizons
    1. a vertical section of part of the earth's crust showing the layers of rock
    2. a representation of such a section
  6. the outline of the shape of a river valley either from source to mouth (long profile) or at right angles to the flow of the river (cross profile)
verb (tr)
  1. to draw, write, or make a profile of
  2. to cut out a shape from a blank (as of steel) with a cutter
Derived Formsprofilist (ˈprəʊfɪlɪst), noun

Word Origin for profile

C17: from Italian profilo, from profilare to sketch lightly, from pro- 1 + Latin fīlum thread
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

Word Origin and History for profiling

by 1852 as a term in field engineering, verbal noun from profile (v.). The racial/ethnic stereotyping sense is attested from c.1991, American English.



1650s, "a drawing of the outline of anything," from older Italian profilo "a drawing in outline," from profilare "to draw in outline," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + filare "draw out, spin," from Late Latin filare "to spin, draw out a line," from filum "thread" (see file (v.)). Meaning "a side view" is from 1660s. Meaning "biographical sketch, character study" is from 1734.



1715, "to represent in profile," from profile (n.) or Italian profilare. Meaning "to summarize a person in writing" is from 1948. Related: Profiled; profiling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

profiling in Medicine


  1. A side view of an object or structure, especially of the human head.
  2. A formal summary or analysis of data, often in the form of a graph or table, representing distinctive features or characteristics.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with profiling


see keep a low profile.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.