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

Landau said in an email, suggesting that racial profiling is at play. Annie Sciacca, The Mercury News, "From 2015 to ’18, Contra Costa cops seized $1.1 million from people not charged with a crime," 14 June 2019 Her airport incident echoes that of other black stars, including Meek Mill, SZA and Sherri Shepherd, who recently took to social media to accuse various retailers of racial profiling. Rachel Desantis,, "RHOA's Porsha Williams Calls Out ‘Completely Racist’ LAX Restaurant," 13 June 2019 The moves comes after singer SZA accused a Southern California store of racial profiling. Leada Gore |,, "Sephora closing all locations Wednesday for diversity training," 3 June 2019 The facts point to a different conclusion: Israeli border security searches for patterns and flags that go far beyond either Mr. Beinart’s or my ego, and the profiling is much more sophisticated than any political spectrum. Annika Hernroth-rothstein, WSJ, "An Interview Isn’t an Interrogation," 19 Aug. 2018 Advocates argue that asking passengers about their citizenship is unconstitutional and often involves racial profiling. Petra Cahill, NBC News, "Trump marks D-day, Border Patrol searches & a homeless man gets a second chance: The Morning Rundown," 5 June 2019 Alexander considers the incidents examples of racial profiling. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Viral Video Shows a Black Columbia University Student Being Pinned Down by Barnard College Security," 15 Apr. 2019 And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. Angela Helm, The Root, "Starbucks CEO Apologizes, Says He Wants to Meet With the Black Men Arrested in Philly," 15 Apr. 2018 And third, to reassure you that Starbucks stands firmly against discrimination or racial profiling. Cnn Staff, CNN, "Starbucks CEO calls arrest of two black men at Philadelphia store 'reprehensible'," 15 Apr. 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.

See More

First Known Use of profiling

1980, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about profiling

Statistics for profiling

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for profiling

The first known use of profiling was in 1980

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on profiling

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


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!