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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Scientists finally found a likely identification for JB55 in 2019, using Y-chromosomal DNA profiling and by cross-referencing the genetic markers with an online genealogy database. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 18 Nov. 2022 The highly controversial program was accused by scholars and advocates of encouraging racial profiling, and was sunsetted by the Biden administration earlier this year. Kimmy Yam, NBC News, 15 Nov. 2022 Today, Most Muslims skew heavily Democrat—particularly since many Republicans have supported policies that harm the Muslim community, including sweeping surveillance programs and religious profiling. Sanya Mansoor, Time, 11 Nov. 2022 Piña said the backlog to address complaints created more challenges to rebuild confidence and trust, especially if racial profiling continues. Rafael Carranza, The Arizona Republic, 10 Nov. 2022 To explain her position on crime and racial profiling, Abrams used her two brothers as an anecdote. Nikolas Lanum, Fox News, 7 Nov. 2022 Fahey also recognized that at the time of the crimes, DNA testing and profiling were not at the forefront of solving crimes. Taylor Hartz, Hartford Courant, 1 Nov. 2022 The case, which alleged unlawful policing and racial profiling, was certified as a class action in August. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 21 Oct. 2022 And to be clear, criminal profiling is kind of controversial. Chicago Tribune, 29 Sep. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1980, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of profiling was in 1980

Dictionary Entries Near profiling

Cite this Entry

“Profiling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Legal Definition



: 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

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