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[proh-fahy-ling] /ˈproʊ faɪ lɪŋ/
the use of personal characteristics or behavior patterns to make generalizations about a person, as in gender profiling.
the use of these characteristics to determine whether a person may be engaged in illegal activity, as in racial profiling.


[proh-fahyl] /ˈproʊ faɪl/
the outline or contour of the human face, especially the face viewed from one side.
a picture or representation of the side view of a head.
an outlined view, as of a city or mountain.
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.
a drawing or the like representing this.
Surveying. a vertical section of the ground surface taken parallel to a survey line.
Compare cross section (def 6).
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.
an informal biography or a concisely presented sketch of the life and character of a person.
a set of characteristics or qualities that identify a type or category of person or thing:
a profile of a typical allergy sufferer.
the look, configuration, or lines of something:
cars with a modern profile.
degree of noticeability; visibility.
Psychology. a description of behavioral and personality traits of a person compared with accepted norms or standards.
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.
(in a gear) the outline of either end of a tooth.
Naval Architecture. a longitudinal elevation or section of a vessel.
verb (used with object), profiled, profiling.
to draw a profile of.
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 forms
profiler, noun
half-profile, noun
1. silhouette. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for profiling
  • But genetic profiling could let physicians know immediately which patient will respond to which drug.
  • Thoughts on color management, and monitor and camera profiling, and color gamut would be really appreciated.
  • Today almost everyone views such blatant ethnic profiling as foolish and cruel.
  • Their practices are successfully based on profiling.
  • He thinks airports should use dogs and continue with profiling.
  • The second reason is to overcome the public mania about ethnic profiling.
  • First is protein profiling, taking tissue specimens and trying to identify and characterize all the proteins.
  • There are issues with this beyond the obvious one of making tracking and profiling incredibly easy.
  • Eventually a profiling tool will emerge that can take advantage of the data out there.
  • They also use it as a means of profiling air pressure, temperature, and moisture in the atmosphere.
British Dictionary definitions for profiling


the practice of categorizing people and predicting their behaviour according to particular characteristics such as race or age: racial profiling


a side view, outline, or representation of an object, esp of a human face or head
a view or representation of an object, esp a building, in contour or outline
a short biographical sketch of a subject
a graph, table, or list of scores representing the extent to which a person, field, or object exhibits various tested characteristics or tendencies: a population profile
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
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 (transitive)
to draw, write, or make a profile of
to cut out a shape from a blank (as of steel) with a cutter
Derived Forms
profilist (ˈprəʊfɪlɪst) noun
Word Origin
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
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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
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profiling in Medicine

profile pro·file (prō'fīl')

  1. A side view of an object or a 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.
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Slang definitions & phrases for profiling


  1. To strut and attitudinize; show off: Now, right now, you're profiling. And I'm being bored
  2. To display prominently and proudly; show off: He was profiling his new Mercedes
Related Terms

keep a low profile, low profile

[1960s+ Black; fr the notion of displaying one's handsome profile]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with profiling


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