pro·​fil·​ing | \ ˈprō-ˌfī-liŋ How to pronounce profiling (audio) \

Definition of profiling

: the act or process of extrapolating information about a person based on known traits or tendencies consumer profiling specifically : the act of suspecting or targeting a person on the basis of observed characteristics or behavior racial profiling

Examples of profiling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

During Tuesday’s packed council meeting, Councilmember M. Lorena González, chair of the council’s public-safety committee, spoke emotionally about her work on last year’s accountability legislation and her lifelong exposure to racial profiling. Steve Miletich, The Seattle Times, "Seattle City Council approves police-union contract; deal faces scrutiny by federal judge overseeing reforms," 13 Nov. 2018 Racial profiling, disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates, and biased apprehension tactics such as stop-and-frisk work to make black immigrants especially vulnerable to draconian immigration enforcement tactics. Shamira Ibrahim, Daily Intelligencer, "Patricia Okoumou and the Threat to Black Immigrants," 13 July 2018 It was passed to address racial profiling, Williams said, and not to make a political statement about immigration. Washington Post, "Groups mobilize against threat to Oregon’s ‘sanctuary’ law," 11 July 2018 Meanwhile, gun violence, police brutality, racial profiling, hate crimes, poverty, deportations, and attacks on civil liberties continue to be everyday realities for people of color. Karen Dolan, Fortune, "These 'Blue Lives Matter' Bills Send the Wrong Message on Race and Violence," 31 May 2018 Incidents of black Americans facing racial profiling and, often times, calls to the police have made national headlines in past weeks. USA TODAY, "911, what's your emergency? #LivingWhileBlack," 10 May 2018 There were other, unpublicized run-ins that people close to Lynch characterize as profiling. Robert Klemko,, "A Marshawn Kind of Way," 9 Dec. 2014 Their thoughts on the training, inspired by an incident of racial profiling last month, were nearly as varied as their drink orders. Kenneth R. Gosselin,, "In Hartford Area, Starbucks Racial Bias Training Draws Mixed Reaction," 29 May 2018 Williams also demanded that the police department release body camera footage of the incident, which had not yet happened, and information about any complaints of racial profiling made against the officer. Nashelly Chavez, sacbee, "Sacramento police release bodycam video of arrest of man who left his car running | The Sacramento Bee," 9 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'profiling.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of profiling

1980, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

17 Mar 2019

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The first known use of profiling was in 1980

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More Definitions for profiling



English Language Learners Definition of profiling

: the act or process of learning information about someone based on what is already known
: the act or practice of regarding particular people as more likely to commit crimes because of their appearance, race, etc.



Legal Definition of profiling

: the practice of singling out persons for law enforcement procedures on the basis of predetermined characteristics specifically : the discriminatory practice of profiling based on race or ethnicity racial profiling

More from Merriam-Webster on profiling

Britannica English: Translation of profiling for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about profiling

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