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

Six months later the county sold the property at auction for $24,500 and refused to refund Mr. Rafaeli any of the profits. Christina Martin, WSJ, "For $8.41 in Unpaid Taxes, the Government Took Uri Rafaeli’s House," 7 Dec. 2018 Back in February, it was announced that Disney was donating $1 million of the film's profits to building youth STEM programs in underserved communities around the United States. Gabe Bergado, Teen Vogue, "Black Panther Stars Surprise a Student with a Full Scholarship," 7 Dec. 2018 About: This national non-profit, recently expanded to 13 cities across the U.S., tackles homelessness through running, community support, and employment and housing resources. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "10 Ways to Use Your Love of Fitness to Do Good on Giving Tuesday or Any Day," 27 Nov. 2018 Non-profit, university and non-government groups across the globe are tackling this idea from various angles. Mallory Locklear, Discover Magazine, "With Big Data and Predictive Analytics, Scientists Are Getting Smarter About Outbreaks," 8 Nov. 2018 Active Minds is a non-profit organization that helps students find groups within their campus that can provide peer-to-peer support. Eileen Reslen, Seventeen, "3 Vital Tips for College Students Who Are Struggling With Mental Health," 10 Oct. 2018 JetBlue has a relatively old fleet (read: high maintenance costs), and the skyrocketing price of fuel has eaten a fair share of the company's profits. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "JetBlue Now Charges $30 for First Checked Bag," 28 Aug. 2018 Potential material shortages, rising manufacturing costs, slimmer profit margins, higher retail prices, and a general state of unease are forcing some American designers to evaluate their long-term design and manufacturing plans. Diana Budds, Curbed, "How Trump’s tariffs are affecting the furniture industry," 7 Aug. 2018 Fifty percent of profits will go to Parley for the Oceans. Lindsay Talbot, Marie Claire, "Your Everything Guide to a Sustainable Closet," 19 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Increasingly, this leaves you vulnerable to hacks, companies profiting from your data and online behavior, and mass government surveillance. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Review: Helm Personal Server gets email self-hosting (almost) exactly right," 4 Dec. 2018 My experience allowed me to see the ugliness of what the skin-whitening industry really is: companies profiting from and perpetuating self-hatred. Melissa Pandika, The Cut, "Before I Embraced My Brownness, I Tried to Lighten My Skin," 31 Jan. 2018 Should Democrats take Congress in 2018 — a development that appears more likely than not — damaging investigations into the Trump family’s shameless attempts to profit off the presidency will surely follow. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "Oprah Should Run – for Governor of Wisconsin," 9 Jan. 2018 In other words, Sears’s former CEO and current chair of the board owns the hedge fund that is helping renegotiate its bankruptcy, and will likely be profiting off the company’s debts. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Sears has filed for bankruptcy, but that doesn’t mean it’s shutting down," 15 Oct. 2018 It can also be used to drive users towards certain services, typically ones that the throttler stands to profit from in one way or another. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Just How Mobile Providers Throttle Your Internet," 11 Sep. 2018 The dairy industry, of course, is continuing with its long-standing argument that companies selling non-dairy beverages are profiting off moo-juice’s good name. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "What is milk? Answer muddled after almond milk mixes with cow milk," 6 Aug. 2018 Investors looking to profit from a major breakthrough in Alzheimer’s disease have more than just clinical data to worry about. Charley Grant, WSJ, "Caution Still Needed on Biogen Alzheimer’s Bounty," 26 July 2018 Novelty companies such as Redbubble are also looking to profit from the first lady’s faux pas by selling mugs and green T-shirts touting the same saying. Sarah Polus,, "Melania Trump’s Zara jacket is selling for insane prices on secondhand sites," 27 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

13 Dec 2018

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

: 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

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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