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

The foundation receives profits from the Newman’s Own food business, a $220 million company that last year gave away more than $32 million. Dave Altimari,, "Newman’s Own CEO Bob Forrester removed following internal investigation," 9 July 2019 Louisiana had long been dependent on oil — profits from the natural resource accounted for nearly half of the state’s budget then. Casey Parks, USA Today, "'You don't know what you did for me': Released from prison by Obama, now on the dean's list," 8 July 2019 But a bill making its way through the Legislature would make California the first state to let student-athletes at public and private campuses profit from the use of their name, image or likeness beginning in 2023. Taylor Kate Brown,, "Bay Briefing: Silicon Valley tiptoes into abortion debate," 8 July 2019 All profits from the store provide funding for Habitat’s home construction for deserving families in Medina County. Sam Boyer,, "Looking at items from the past is always interesting: Whit & Whimsey," 5 July 2019 The falling costs of solar panels, wind turbines and lithium-ion batteries are also eating into profits for some gas-plant operators, accelerating the energy transition. Sammy Roth,, "Environmentalists balk as Glendale power plant officials unveil ‘portfolio of tomorrow’," 5 July 2019 As desperate people struggle to get to the U.S., a sprawling network of individuals has sprung up to help them — and profit from them — all along the way. Ines Novacic, CBS News, "The untold stories behind the headlines of America's immigration debate," 5 July 2019 Iacocca increased his already intense popularity by announcing that all profits from the autobiography would go toward finding a cure for diabetes. Charlotte W. Craig, Detroit Free Press, "Lee Iacocca dies: Father of Mustang, rescuer of Chrysler was 94," 2 July 2019 Iacocca then paid off the government seven years early at a profit of $350 million, according to the foundation’s website. Joelle Goldstein,, "Lee Iacocca, Ford Mustang Developer and Legendary Automobile Executive, Dead at 94," 2 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Trump accountable for violating the Constitution and profiting from the presidency. Doug Donovan,, "Federal court dismisses Maryland Attorney General Frosh’s lawsuit over President Trump’s hotel profits from foreign officials," 10 July 2019 That is arguably a bigger issue for commercial lenders such as Bank of America BAC 2.80% than for the likes of Goldman Sachs, which can profit from trading the volatility in rates. Aaron Back, WSJ, "Don’t Overestimate the Power of Bank Payouts," 27 June 2019 However, the majority of statements—including one from senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a Democratic presidential hopeful—say profiting from the crisis or supporting its governmental players is morally unjustifiable. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "Wayfair’s CEO runs a children’s foundation while furnishing migrant camps," 26 June 2019 That’s a really surprising idea, given how the perception of McDonald’s now is of something driven by corporate greed that profits off low wages. Rachel Sugar, Vox, "Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast-Food Kingdom," 26 June 2019 Though, again, this would merely be the consequence of saying that there would be more responsibility attached to speech, especially to the entity that profits the most from it. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "What Is Facebook?," 25 June 2019 Some people believe that profiting from tragedy, whether directly or indirectly, is offensive, tacky or just plain wrong. Laura Newberry, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column One: In a tiny California town ravaged by fire, a muralist finds a calling — and notoriety," 18 June 2019 Alameda’s first rent-stabilization law discouraged high rent increases designed to profit off under-market rents. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Could homeowners stay if mortgages rose as rents do?," 26 June 2019 No one who works for a company profiting from these camps should be standing idly by as children are dying. Sarah Wu,, "Here’s what people are saying about the Wayfair walkout," 25 June 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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Statistics for profit

Last Updated

12 Jul 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 form ideas or theories about something

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