noun, often attributive
prof·​it | \ ˈprä-fət How to pronounce profit (audio) \

Definition of profit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a valuable return : gain
2 : the excess of returns over expenditure in a transaction or series of transactions especially : the excess of the selling price of goods over their cost
3 : net income usually for a given period of time
4 : the ratio of profit for a given year to the amount of capital invested or to the value of sales
5 : the compensation accruing to entrepreneurs for the assumption of risk in business enterprise as distinguished from wages or rent


profited; profiting; profits

Definition of profit (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to be of service or advantage : avail
2 : to derive benefit : gain
3 : to make a profit

transitive verb

: to be of service to : benefit

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Other Words from profit


profitless \ ˈprä-​fət-​ləs How to pronounce profitless (audio) \ adjective
profitwise \ ˈprä-​fət-​ˌwīz How to pronounce profitwise (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms for profit

Synonyms: Noun

earnings, gain, lucre, net, payoff, proceeds, return

Synonyms: Verb

advantage, avail, benefit, help, serve

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Examples of profit in a Sentence


The company made a profit this year. Profits are up from last year. There was a rise in profits this year. The profits from CD sales were donated to charity. The organization is not run for profit. The film made $1,000,000 in profit. The book can be read with profit by anyone who wants to understand how the system works.


It would profit him to take some computer classes. The company has profited by selling its products online. He profited greatly from his investments. The island profits from tourism.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Those effects contributed to a shock profit warning in February and, barely a month later, Tui has followed up with another one. Washington Post, "Holiday Giant Pays a Price for Grounded 737 Max," 18 Sep. 2019 That’s the same reason maintenance costs for EVs are so low—a problem for dealerships that rely on servicing cars for profits. Wired, "The Shift to Electric Vehicles Propels a Strike Against GM," 17 Sep. 2019 Those things are often seen as an unnecessary luxury of wealthy for-profit businesses, but something a nonprofit like Fithian’s conservancy can skip. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian, "Take a Sabbatical to Help America’s National Parks," 17 Sep. 2019 Further complicating matters is that GM is making record profits and UAW leadership is embroiled in a federal corruption scandal, diminishing any trust from workers, per the Free Press’ Randy Essex., "UAW, GM resume talks amid nationwide auto worker strike: The Flyover," 17 Sep. 2019 Chartered in 1967, the Fort Bend History Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit that preserves and shares the history of Fort Bend County through exhibits, community events and programs, living history interpretations, school programs and more. Staff Report, Houston Chronicle, "Fundraising campaign to renovate museum totals more than $1 million," 16 Sep. 2019 The laborious process meant extracting shipping information from Amazon warehouses to calculate contribution profit. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "WSJ: Amazon changed search results to boost profits despite internal dissent," 16 Sep. 2019 What that means is that employees won’t pay for it directly out of pocket, but will use profits from the restaurant to pay Gerdes and Meyer over time. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Minneapolis restaurant Hell’s Kitchen is selling — to its employees," 15 Sep. 2019 In the suit, Fehn accused the duo of telling him money from merchandise and touring is funneled through one sole company that splits profits and pays the band. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, "Slipknot's Corey Taylor & Shawn Crahan Respond to Former Drummer's Lawsuit," 13 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The fate of Fred's had been shrouded in uncertainty since the company's plans to profit from a mega-merger between pharmacy giants Walgreens Boots Alliance and Rite Aid collapsed in late June 2017 amid federal antitrust concerns. Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY, "Fred's to close all of its stores in Chapter 11 bankruptcy liquidation," 9 Sep. 2019 And WayFair staff left their desks after learning that the retailer profited from migrant detention centers run by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Wired, "Amazon Employees Will Walk Out Over the Company's Climate Change Inaction," 9 Sep. 2019 The newspaper reported that Alibek had profited from fears of bioterrorism to get $28 million in federal grants or contracts for himself or his employers. Brian Albrecht,, "Scientist who supervised Soviet biological weapons production now develops products to help people," 8 Sep. 2019 Nearly 200 members of Congress have also filed suit accusing Mr. Trump of violating the emoluments clause by profiting from his businesses while in office. Grace Segers, CBS News, "House committees investigate Pence's stay at Trump resort in Ireland," 6 Sep. 2019 Rich was anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic, and profited from thwarting Spanish shipping in the Caribbean. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The First Africans in Virginia Landed in 1619. It Was a Turning Point for Slavery in American History—But Not the Beginning," 20 Aug. 2019 At that time patent laws did not exist to protect living cells, so vaccine manufacturers have used WI-38 to this day, profiting from their use in multiple billions of dollars. Gavin Francis, The New York Review of Books, "The Value of a Cell," 23 May 2019 The tweets Monday come after Democrats have sounded the cry for an impeachment investigation, fueled by allegations that Trump has obstructed justice and is profiting off of his time in office. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump says Democrats should look into Barack and Michelle Obama's books, Netflix deals," 17 Sep. 2019 In 2017, the victims' families were awarded $150 million in damages, and Grant and Johnson were prohibited from profiting in any way from the shooting. Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News, "Arkansas school shooter who killed five in 1998 dies in head-on car crash," 29 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'profit.' 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 profit


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for profit


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin profectus advance, profit, from proficere

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Learn More about profit

Statistics for profit

Last Updated

18 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for profit

The first known use of profit was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for profit



Financial Definition of profit

What It Is

Profit is the positive gain remaining for a business after all costs and expenses have been deducted from total sales. Profit is also referred to as the bottom line, net profit or net earnings.

How It Works

The formula for profit is:

Total Sales - Total Expenses = Profit

Here is some information about Company XYZ for last year:

Using the formula and the information above, we can calculate that Company XYZ's profit was:

$2,000,000 - $1,000,000 - $50,000 - $95,000 = $855,000

Why It Matters

Profit is one of the most important measurements in determining the health and success of a business.  However, the measurement of profit can vary and should be considered with other factors.

For example, profit varies greatly from company to company and from industry to industry. Because companies vary in size, it is often more appropriate to consider profit as a percentage of sales (profit margin) when comparing one company to another.  As well, varying accounting methods can greatly influence profit, and these changes may have little to do with a company's actual operations.

Changes in profit are the subject of much analysis. In general, high or rising profits are indicative of a successful business while low profits could suggest a myriad of problems, including inadequacies in customer or expense management.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of profit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: money that is made in a business, through investing, etc., after all the costs and expenses are paid : a financial gain
formal : the advantage or benefit that is gained from doing something



English Language Learners Definition of profit (Entry 2 of 2)

: to get an advantage or benefit from something
: to be an advantage to (someone) : to help (someone)
: to earn or get money by or from something


prof·​it | \ ˈprä-fət How to pronounce profit (audio) \

Kids Definition of profit

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the gain after all the expenses are subtracted from the total amount received Their business shows a profit of $100 a week.
2 : the gain or benefit from something She began to see the profit of exercising.

Other Words from profit

profitless \ -​ləs \ adjective


profited; profiting

Kids Definition of profit (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to get some good out of something : gain You'll profit from the experience.
2 : to be of use to (someone) The agreement profited us all.

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Legal Definition of profit

1 : gain in excess of expenditures: as
a : the excess of the selling price of goods over their cost
b : net income from a business, investment, or capital appreciation — compare earnings, loss
2 : a benefit or advantage from the use of property

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Comments on profit

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


to fake an opponent out of position

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