Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Medical
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


adjective pro·found \prə-ˈfau̇nd, prō-\

Simple Definition of profound

  • : having or showing great knowledge or understanding

  • : difficult to understand : requiring deep thought or wisdom

  • : very strongly felt

Full Definition of profound

  1. 1 a :  having intellectual depth and insight b :  difficult to fathom or understand

  2. 2 a :  extending far below the surface b :  coming from, reaching to, or situated at a depth :  deep-seated <a profound sigh>

  3. 3 a :  characterized by intensity of feeling or quality b :  all encompassing :  complete <profound sleep> <profound deafness>

pro·found·ly play \-ˈfau̇n(d)-lē\ adverb
pro·found·ness play \-ˈfau̇n(d)-nəs\ noun

Examples of profound

  1. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study's longtime director, George Vaillant. —Joshua Wolf Shenk, Atlantic, June 2009

  2. This isn't escapism, or denial of grief; it is acceptance of the facts of life, the map of profound relationship to the grief that is part of life … —Tom Piazza, Why New Orleans Matters, 2005

  3. The status of women, though probably the most profound single difference between the two civilizations, attracted far less attention than such matters as guns, factories and parliaments. —Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?, 2002

  4. Despite all the respect, it was hard not to feel a twinge of schadenfreude at O'Hara's fall from esteem, which had caused him profound bitterness. —Kingsley Amis, Memoirs, 1991

  5. His knowledge of history is profound.

  6. Her books offer profound insights into the true nature of courage.

  7. the profound mysteries of outer space

  8. a profound sense of loss

  9. His paintings have had a profound effect on her own work.

Origin of profound

Middle English, from Anglo-French parfunt, profond deep, from Latin profundus, from pro- before + fundus bottom — more at pro-, bottom

First Known Use: 14th century



noun pro·found \prə-ˈfau̇nd, prō-\

Definition of profound


  1. :  something that is very deep; specifically :  the depths of the sea

Origin of profound

(see 1profound)

First Known Use: 1621

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up profound? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 11, 2016

the holder of an office

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


How much does a batman (the Turkish unit of measurement) weigh?

16.96 pounds 100 pounds 2.2 pounds 196.5 pounds
Name That Thing

10 quick questions: hear them, spell them, and see how your skills compare to the crowd.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.