noun, often attributive
prof·​it | \ˈprä-fət \

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 \ adjective
profitwise \ ˈprä-​fət-​ˌwīz \ 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

The tee is part of a special collection dedicated to the non-profit, with all proceeds going towards engaging younger generations in politics. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Gigi Hadid Is Ready to Rock the Vote," 5 Nov. 2018 Fallon appeared to be referring to RAICES, the non-profit Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. Samuel Chamberlain, Fox News, "Trump tells 'whimpering' Jimmy Fallon to 'be a man' over 'Tonight Show' hair-mussing episode," 2 Oct. 2018 There are also a number of non-profit organizations that offer grants and scholarships for people whose primary barrier to infertility treatment is cost. Jennifer Gerson, Marie Claire, "Health & Fitness," 1 Oct. 2018 This will include a $1 million investment to push for the passage of congestion pricing in New York City as well as funding for the non-profit PeopleForBikes. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Uber makes $10M bet on bikes and transit," 26 Sep. 2018 Every summer, the non-profit learning center and resort presents performances by world-class artists and lectures by speakers on topics ranging from art to politics and, yes, even comedy. Suzanne Rowan Kelleher, Condé Nast Traveler, "The National Comedy Center Is an Unlikely Attraction That's Putting Western New York Back on the Map," 13 Sep. 2018 As drug overdose deaths and addiction treatment admissions rose, so too did opioid companies’ profits. German Lopez, Vox, "His family helped cause the opioid crisis. Now he might profit from addiction treatment.," 7 Sep. 2018 As a browser backed by a non-profit company, Firefox can give you a more useful web that’s more fun and more discoverable. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Firefox To Block Third-Party Trackers That Harvest Your Data and Slow Down Your Internet," 31 Aug. 2018 The bots were the creation of OpenAI, a non-profit research lab founded by tech luminaries such as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. James Vincent, The Verge, "Humans grab victory in first of three Dota 2 matches against OpenAI," 23 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

American farmers, seeing little opportunity to profit, planted the smallest area of wheat since records began a century ago. James Marson, WSJ, "Struggling U.S. Farmers Worry About a Resurgent Russia," 23 Sep. 2018 While that may be true, regulators and ethicists have nonetheless been unsettled by what seemed a race by Zhang to profit from a procedure with profound moral and religious implications. Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post, "This fertility doctor is pushing the boundaries of human reproduction, with little regulation," 14 May 2018 Whichever team moves first will be in for a financial boon, profiting from all the rebranded merchandise and apparel. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Jacksonville Jaguars move closer to London with owner's Wembley bid," 26 Apr. 2018 DiSabato is also involved with the lawsuit brought by former Ohio State football player Chris Spielman over the university profiting from the likenesses of former players. Doug Lesmerises,, "Ohio State investigating sexual misconduct allegations against former athletics doctor who died in 2005," 5 Apr. 2018 Argentina’s central bank is boosting support for the peso, and bond traders smell an opportunity to profit. Pablo Rosendo Gonzalez,, "Argentina's Defense of the Peso Makes Its 27% Rates More Tempting," 23 Mar. 2018 Sitting down with the white proprietor of a Nashville hot-chicken chain, Chang forces himself, with obvious steeling of will, to ask astonishingly direct questions about the moral burden of a white man profiting from black culture. Matt Giles, Longreads, "David Chang’s ‘Ugly Delicious’ Pushes Food TV in the Right Direction," 23 Mar. 2018 And yet, Democrats were still wrong to claim that the Trump tax cuts would do little beyond enabling corporations to profit off inflating their stock prices — because the tax cuts aren’t even accomplishing that. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Corporations Invested Their Tax Cuts Into Stock Buybacks That Didn’t Even Work," 9 July 2018 Grande has the luxury of profiting off a more removed persona. Rebecca Farley,, "The Weird & Wonderful Pairing Of Pete Davidson & Ariana Grande," 1 June 2018

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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Statistics for profit

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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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

: 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 \

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

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