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See also: Profeß and Profess



From Old French professer, and its source, the participle stem of Latin profitērī, from pro- + fatērī (to confess, acknowledge).



profess (third-person singular simple present professes, present participle professing, simple past and past participle professed)

  1. (transitive) To administer the vows of a religious order to (someone); to admit to a religious order. (Chiefly in passive.) [from 14th c.]
    • 2000, Butler's Lives of the Saints, p.118:
      This swayed the balance decisively in Mary's favour, and she was professed on 8 September 1578.
  2. (reflexive) To declare oneself (to be something). [from 16th c.]
    • 2011, Alex Needham, The Guardian, 9 Dec.:
      Kiefer professes himself amused by the fuss that ensued when he announced that he was buying the Mülheim-Kärlich reactor [].
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To declare; to assert, affirm. [from 16th c.]
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, First Folio 1623:
      He professes to haue receiued no sinister measure from his Iudge, but most willingly humbles himselfe to the determination of Iustice [].
    • 1671, John Milton, Paradise Regained
      The best and wisest of them all professed / To know this only, that he nothing knew.
    • 1974, ‘The Kansas Kickbacks’, Time, 11 Feb 1974:
      The Governor immediately professed that he knew nothing about the incident.
    • 2013 June 7, Gary Younge, “Hypocrisy lies at heart of Manning prosecution”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 18:
      WikiLeaks did not cause these uprisings but it certainly informed them. The dispatches revealed details of corruption and kleptocracy that many Tunisians suspected, []. They also exposed the blatant discrepancy between the west's professed values and actual foreign policies.
  4. (transitive) To make a claim (to be something), to lay claim to (a given quality, feeling etc.), often with connotations of insincerity. [from 16th c.]
    • 2010, Hélène Mulholland, The Guardian, 28 Sep 2010:
      Ed Miliband professed ignorance of the comment when he was approached by the BBC later.
  5. (transitive) To declare one's adherence to (a religion, deity, principle etc.). [from 16th c.]
    • 1983, Alexander Mcleish, The Frontier Peoples of India, Mittal Publications 1984, p.122:
      The remainder of the population, about two-thirds, belongs to the Mongolian race and professes Buddhism.
  6. (transitive) To work as a professor of; to teach. [from 16th c.]
  7. (transitive, now rare) To claim to have knowledge or understanding of (a given area of interest, subject matter). [from 16th c.]


Further reading[edit]