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

And a Gilbert non-profit, Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, has donated truckloads of water and two 2,500-gallon water tanks, among other supplies. Alex Devoid, azcentral, "Volunteers care for Navajo wild horses during drought, despite overpopulation concerns," 13 July 2018 At the same time, the business world moves fast to try to exploit profit-making opportunities. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "Brett Kavanaugh and the new judicial activism," 12 July 2018 The governing bodies for each sport effectively operate as independent non-profits but must meet requirements set by the USOC. Rachel Axon, USA TODAY, "USOC names new CEO at critical time for Olympic movement," 12 July 2018 The event is being sponsored by America First Policies, a non-profit group with the goals of promoting Trump’s policies. Rick Pearson,, "Vice President Pence to speak in Rosemont Friday, when Gov. Rauner will introduce him," 12 July 2018 About 7,500 youth were employed by non-profits, city agencies and other private sector groups through the program last summer. Talia Richman,, "Baltimore's Youthworks program paid some people for work they didn't do, audit finds," 11 July 2018 Haarhoff acts for a non-profit group founded by American philanthropist Greg Carr that is collaborating with Mozambique's government to rehabilitate Gorongosa National Park, a rich ecosystem whose animals are recovering after war and poaching. Christopher Torchia, Fox News, "Coffee and conservation: Mozambique tries both on a mountain," 11 July 2018 There’s now a new Connecticut non-profit group that is looking to buy land for a cemetery devoted to those old-school green burials. Gregory B. Hladky,, "No Expensive Caskets. No Toxic Chemicals. 'Green Burials' Growing In Popularity In Connecticut," 6 July 2018 Additionally, veterans are used to being mission-driven instead of profit-driven. Adam Janofsky And Kim S. Nash, WSJ, "How Companies Can Bridge the Culture Gap When Hiring Ex-Military Cybersecurity Professionals," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Berners-Lee, who never directly profited off his invention, has also spent most of his life trying to guard it. Krista Stevens, Longreads, "Accountability for the Algorithms," 13 July 2018 Some of the big donors are big corporate interests that give to groups like this, but this list shows a disproportionate amount of money from industries who profit from things that are inherently bad for the public. Tom Loftus, The Courier-Journal, "A GOP group influential in Kentucky is funded by tobacco and casinos," 13 July 2018 That’s what happened to Anthony Lynn, who profited from the insanity that follows Buddy Ryan & Sons. Marcus Hayes,, "Eagles assistant Duce Staley doesn't need your pity | Marcus Hayes," 6 July 2018 Berners-Lee, who never directly profited off his invention, has also spent most of his life trying to guard it. Katrina Brooker, The Hive, "“I Was Devastated”: Tim Berners-Lee, the Man Who Created the World Wide Web, Has Some Regrets," 1 July 2018 By deciding not to restrict any legal but hateful content, Valve is making the passive decision to profit from that content. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Op-ed: Valve takes a side by not “taking sides” in curation controversy," 7 June 2018 Opportunists like Gorman are not the only people who have profited from the puppy trade. Mirren Gidda, Newsweek, "The Latest Illegal Business in the U.K. Is Dog Smuggling," 16 Jan. 2018 While Hogan stepped aside at the company and turned his assets over to be managed by a trust, the Republican governor has continued to profit. Luke Broadwater,, "As governor, Larry Hogan's real estate business continues to thrive — prompting questions," 13 July 2018 One of those happens to be General Dynamics, which is a defense contractor, which has been profiting from the separation of families at the border. David Weigel, Washington Post, "In Wisconsin, a Democratic star finds himself in a primary brawl," 9 July 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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Learn More about profit

Phrases Related to profit

at a profit

profit margin

profit motive

Statistics for profit

Last Updated

20 Sep 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).


a magnificent or impressive array

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