When an athlete "goes pro," she goes professional–-she is paid for her service rather than doing it on an amateur basis. Other professionals, including doctors and lawyers, are also paid for their work, which, we hope, they conduct in a professional manner.

In the 15th century, the word profession referred to vows taken upon entering a religious order. A monk or priest professed his faith. Now, the word suggests competence and expertise and even dignity––"He can't ask me to go out for coffee. I'm a vice president. That just wouldn't be professional!"

Definitions of professional
  1. adjective
    of or relating to or suitable as a profession
    professional organizations”
    “a professional field such as law”
  2. adjective
    of or relating to a profession
    “we need professional advice”
    professional training”
    professional equipment for his new office”
  3. adjective
    characteristic of or befitting a profession or one engaged in a profession
    professional conduct”
    professional ethics”
    “a thoroughly professional performance”
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    not characteristic of or befitting a profession or one engaged in a profession
    amateur, amateurish, inexpert, unskilled
    lacking professional skill or expertise
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  4. adjective
    engaged in by members of a profession
    professional occupations include medicine and the law and teaching”
    of or designating salaried professional or clerical work or workers
  5. adjective
    engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or means of livelihood
    “the professional man or woman possesses distinctive qualifications”
    “began her professional career after the Olympics”
    professional theater”
    professional football”
    “a professional cook”
    professional actors and athletes”
    nonrecreational, paid
    involving gainful employment in something often done as a hobby
    professing to be qualified
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    not professional; not engaged in a profession or engaging in as a profession or for gain
    amateur, recreational, unpaid
    engaged in as a pastime
    not of or from a profession
    show more antonyms...
  6. noun
    a person engaged in one of the learned professions
    synonyms: professional person
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    show 128 examples...
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    Matthew Arnold
    English poet and literary critic (1822-1888)
    Abul-Walid Mohammed ibn-Ahmad Ibn-Mohammed ibn-Roshd
    Arabian philosopher born in Spain; wrote detailed commentaries on Aristotle that were admired by the Schoolmen (1126-1198)
    Abu Ali al-Husain ibn Abdallah ibn Sina
    Arabian physician and influential Islamic philosopher; his interpretation of Aristotle influenced St. Thomas Aquinas; writings on medicine were important for almost 500 years (980-1037)
    Karl Baedeker
    German publisher of a series of travel guidebooks (1801-1859)
    Robert Barany
    Austrian physician who developed a rotational method for testing the middle ear (1876-1936)
    Caspar Bartholin
    Danish physician who discovered Bartholin's gland (1585-1629)
    John Bartlett
    United States publisher and editor who compiled a book of familiar quotations (1820-1905)
    Mary McLeod Bethune
    United States educator who worked to improve race relations and educational opportunities for Black Americans (1875-1955)
    Apostle of Germany
    (Roman Catholic Church) Anglo-Saxon missionary who was sent to Frisia and Germany to spread the Christian faith; was martyred in Frisia (680-754)
    Louis Braille
    French educator who lost his sight at the age of three and who invented a system of writing and printing for sightless people (1809-1852)
    Van Wyck Brooks
    United States literary critic and historian (1886-1963)
    Sir David Bruce
    Australian physician and bacteriologist who described the bacterium that causes undulant fever or brucellosis (1855-1931)
    Boy Orator of the Platte
    United States lawyer and politician who advocated free silver and prosecuted John Scopes (1925) for teaching evolution in a Tennessee high school (1860-1925)
    Dale Carnegie
    United States educator famous for writing a book about how to win friends and influence people (1888-1955)
    Edith Louisa Cavell
    English nurse who remained in Brussels after the German occupation in order to help Allied prisoners escape; was caught and executed by the Germans (1865-1915)
    John Anthony Ciardi
    United States poet and critic (1916-1986)
    John Amos Comenius
    Czech educational reformer (1592-1670)
    Burrill Bernard Crohn
    United States physician who specialized in diseases of the intestines; he was the first to describe regional ileitis which is now known as Crohn's disease (1884-1983)
    Clarence Seward Darrow
    United States lawyer famous for his defense of lost causes (1857-1938)
    Jacques Derrida
    French philosopher and critic (born in Algeria); exponent of deconstructionism (1930-2004)
    John Dewey
    United States pragmatic philosopher who advocated progressive education (1859-1952)
    Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey
    United States librarian who founded the decimal system of classification (1851-1931)
    John L. H. Down
    English physician who first described Down's syndrome (1828-1896)
    Christiaan Eijkman
    Dutch physician who discovered that beriberi is caused by a nutritional deficiency (1858-1930)
    Etienne-Louis Arthur Fallot
    French physician who described cardiac anomalies including Fallot's tetralogy (1850-1911)
    Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel
    German educator who founded the kindergarten system (1782-1852)
    Roger Eliot Fry
    English painter and art critic (1866-1934)
    Herman Northrop Frye
    Canadian literary critic interested in the use of myth and symbolism (1912-1991)
    Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
    United States educator who established the first free school in the United States for the hearing impaired (1787-1851)
    William Gilbert
    English court physician noted for his studies of terrestrial magnetism (1540-1603)
    Harley Granville-Barker
    English actor and dramatist and critic and director noted for his productions of Shakespearean plays (1877-1946)
    William Harvey
    English physician and scientist who described the circulation of the blood; he later proposed that all animals originate from an ovum produced by the female of the species (1578-1657)
    Arthur Garfield Hays
    United States lawyer involved in several famous court trials (1881-1954)
    William Harrison Hays
    United States lawyer and politician who formulated a production code that prescribed the moral content of United States films from 1930 to 1966 (1879-1954)
    William Hazlitt
    English essayist and literary critic (1778-1830)
    medical practitioner who is regarded as the father of medicine; author of the Hippocratic oath (circa 460-377 BC)
    Thomas Hodgkin
    English physician who first described Hodgkin's disease (1798-1866)
    John Edgar Hoover
    United States lawyer who was director of the FBI for 48 years (1895-1972)
    Mark Hopkins
    United States educator and theologian (1802-1887)
    Henry Oscar Houghton
    United States publisher who founded a printing shop that became an important book publisher (1823-1895)
    George Huntington
    United States physician who first described Huntington's chorea
    Robert Maynard Hutchins
    United States educator who was president of the University of Chicago (1899-1977)
    Aletta Jacobs
    Dutch physician who opened the first birth control clinic in the world in Amsterdam (1854-1929)
    Edward Jenner
    English physician who pioneered vaccination; Jenner inoculated people with small amounts of cowpox to prevent them from getting smallpox (1749-1823)
    Francis Scott Key
    United States lawyer and poet who wrote a poem after witnessing the British attack on Baltimore during the War of 1812; the poem was later set to music and entitled `The Star-Spangled Banner' (1779-1843)
    Harry Fitch Kleinfelter
    United States physician who first described the XXY-syndrome (born in 1912)
    Lucy Craft Laney
    United States educator who founded the first private school for Black students in Augusta, Georgia (1854-1933)
    President Abraham Lincoln
    16th President of the United States; saved the Union during the American Civil War and emancipated the slaves; was assassinated by Booth (1809-1865)
    David Livingstone
    Scottish missionary and explorer who discovered the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls (1813-1873)
    Otto Loewi
    United States pharmacologist (born in Germany) who was the first to show that acetylcholine is produced at the junction between a parasympathetic nerve and a muscle (1873-1961)
    Abbott Lawrence Lowell
    United States educator and president of Harvard University (1856-1943)
    Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier
    United States physician who in 1863 founded a medical school for women (1813-1888)
    Henry Robinson Luce
    United States publisher of magazines (1898-1967)
    Horace Mann
    United States educator who introduced reforms that significantly altered the system of public education (1796-1859)
    Sir Patrick Manson
    Scottish physician who discovered that elephantiasis is spread by mosquitos and suggested that mosquitos also spread malaria (1844-1922)
    William Holmes McGuffey
    United States educator who compiled the McGuffey Eclectic Readers (1800-1873)
    Henry Louis Mencken
    United States journalist and literary critic (1880-1956)
    Friedrich Anton Mesmer
    Austrian physician who tried to treat diseases with a form of hypnotism (1734-1815)
    Maria Montesorri
    Italian educator who developed a method of teaching mentally handicapped children and advocated a child-centered approach (1870-1952)
    Daniel Patrick Moynihan
    United States politician and educator (1927-2003)
    Keith Rupert Murdoch
    United States publisher (born in Australia in 1931)
    James Naismith
    United States educator (born in Canada) who invented the game of basketball (1861-1939)
    Florence Nightingale
    English nurse remembered for her work during the Crimean War (1820-1910)
    Adolph Simon Ochs
    United States newspaper publisher (1858-1935)
    Carl Orff
    German musician who developed a widely used system for teaching music to children (1895-1982)
    Theophrastus Philippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim
    Swiss physician who introduced treatments of particular illnesses based on his observation and experience; he saw illness as having an external cause (rather than an imbalance of humors) and replaced traditional remedies with chemical remedies (1493-1541)
    Elizabeth Palmer Peabody
    educator who founded the first kindergarten in the United States (1804-1894)
    Sir Isaac Pitman
    English educator who invented a system of phonetic shorthand (1813-1897)
    Ivor Armstrong Richards
    English literary critic who collaborated with C. K. Ogden and contributed to the development of Basic English (1893-1979)
    Peter Mark Roget
    English physician who in retirement compiled a well-known thesaurus (1779-1869)
    Sir Ronald Ross
    British physician who discovered that mosquitos transmit malaria (1857-1932)
    Benjamin Rush
    physician and American Revolutionary leader; signer of the Declaration of Independence (1745-1813)
    John Ruskin
    British art critic (1819-1900)
    Margaret Higgins Sanger
    United States nurse who campaigned for birth control and planned parenthood; she challenged Gregory Pincus to develop a birth control pill (1883-1966)
    Albert Schweitzer
    French philosopher and physician and organist who spent most of his life as a medical missionary in Gabon (1875-1965)
    John Thomas Scopes
    Tennessee highschool teacher who violated a state law by teaching evolution; in a highly publicized trial in 1925 he was prosecuted by William Jennings Bryan and defended by Clarence Darrow (1900-1970)
    Anna Howard Shaw
    United States physician and suffragist (1847-1919)
    Sir James Young Simpson
    Scottish obstetrician and surgeon who pioneered in the use of ether and discovered the anesthetic effects of chloroform (1811-1870)
    Sir Stephen Harold Spender
    English poet and critic (1909-1995)
    Anne Mansfield Sullivan
    United States educator who was the teacher and lifelong companion of Helen Keller (1866-1936)
    English Hippocrates
    English physician (1624-1689)
    John Orley Allen Tate
    United States poet and critic (1899-1979)
    Joseph Deems Taylor
    United States composer and music critic (1885-1966)
    Lionel Trilling
    United States literary critic (1905-1975)
    Carl Clinton Van Doren
    United States writer and literary critic (1885-1950)
    Booker Taliaferro Washington
    United States educator who was born a slave but became educated and founded a college at Tuskegee in Alabama (1856-1915)
    Andrew Dickson White
    United States educator who in 1865 (with Ezra Cornell) founded Cornell University and served as its first president (1832-1918)
    Marcus Whitman
    United States frontier missionary who established a post in Oregon where Christianity and schooling and medicine were available to Native Americans (1802-1847)
    Emma Hart Willard
    United States educator who was an early campaigner for higher education for women (1787-1870)
    Erik Adolf von Willebrand
    Finnish physician who first described vascular hemophilia (1870-1949)
    Edmund Wilson
    United States literary critic (1895-1972)
    John Witherspoon
    American Revolutionary leader and educator (born in Scotland) who signed of the Declaration of Independence and was president of the college that became Princeton University (1723-1794)
    Alexander Woollcott
    United States drama critic and journalist (1887-1943)
    Saint Francis Xavier
    Spanish missionary and Jesuit who establish missionaries in Japan and Ceylon and the East Indies (1506-1552)
    William Beaumont
    United States surgeon remembered for his studies of digestion (1785-1853)
    Alexis Carrel
    French surgeon and biologist who developed a way to suture and graft blood vessels (1873-1944)
    William Cowper
    English surgeon who discovered Cowper's gland (1666-1709)
    Michael Ellis De Bakey
    United States heart surgeon who in 1966 implanted the first artificial heart in a human patient (born in 1908)
    William Crawford Gorgas
    United States Army surgeon who suppressed yellow fever in Havana and in the Panama Canal Zone (1854-1920)
    Joseph Lister
    English surgeon who was the first to use antiseptics (1827-1912)
    James Parkinson
    English surgeon (1755-1824)
    Walter Reed
    United States physician who proved that yellow fever is transmitted by mosquitoes (1851-1902)
    Jean Martin Charcot
    French neurologist who tried to use hypnotism to cure hysteria (1825-1893)
    Harvery Williams Cushing
    United States neurologist noted for his study of the brain and pituitary gland and who identified Cushing's syndrome (1869-1939)
    Sir Howard Walter Florey
    British pathologist who isolated and purified penicillin, which had been discovered in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming (1898-1968)
    Sigmund Freud
    Austrian neurologist who originated psychoanalysis (1856-1939)
    Harold Hirschsprung
    Danish pediatrician (1830-1916)
    Karen Danielsen Horney
    United States psychiatrist (1885-1952)
    Karl Theodor Jaspers
    German psychiatrist (1883-1969)
    Baron Richard von Krafft-Ebing
    German neurologist noted for his studies of sexual deviance (1840-1902)
    Karl Landsteiner
    United States pathologist (born in Austria) who discovered human blood groups (1868-1943)
    Prosper Meniere
    French otologist who first described a form of vertigo now known as Meniere's disease and identified the semicircular canals as the site of the lesion (1799-1862)
    Charles Frederick Menninger
    United States psychiatrist who with his sons founded a famous psychiatric clinic in Topeka (1862-1953)
    Karl Augustus Menninger
    United States psychiatrist and son of Charles Menninger (1893-1990)
    William Claire Menninger
    United States psychiatrist and son of Charles Menninger (1899-1966)
    Sir James Paget
    English pathologist who discovered the cause of trichinosis (1814-1899)
    John Rock
    United States gynecologist and devout Catholic who conducted the first clinical trials of the oral contraceptive pill (1890-1984)
    Francis Peyton Rous
    United States pathologist who discovered viruses that cause tumors (1879-1970)
    Hermann Snellen
    Dutch ophthalmologist who introduced the Snellen chart to study visual acuity (1834-1908)
    Benjamin Spock
    United States pediatrician whose many books on child care influenced the upbringing of children around the world (1903-1998)
    Harry Stack Sullivan
    United States psychiatrist (1892-1949)
    Georges Gilles de la Tourette
    French neurologist (1857-1904)
    Henry Hubert Turner
    United States endocrinologist (1892-1970)
    Rudolf Karl Virchow
    German pathologist who recognized that all cells come from cells by binary fission and who emphasized cellular abnormalities in disease (1821-1902)
    Karl Wernicke
    German neurologist best known for his studies of aphasia (1848-1905)
    Thomas Willis
    English physician who was a pioneer in the study of the brain (1621-1675)
    Melanie Klein
    United States psychoanalyst (born in Austria) who was the first to specialize in the psychoanalysis of small children (1882-1960)
    Wilhelm Reich
    Austrian born psychoanalyst who lived in the United States; advocated sexual freedom and believed that cosmic energy could be concentrated in a human being (1897-1957)
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    a professional who is intent on furthering his or her career by any possible means and often at the expense of their own integrity
    a professional whose work is consistently of high quality
    a person who is professionally engaged in the analysis and interpretation of works of art
    educator, pedagog, pedagogue
    someone who educates young people
    PCP, caregiver, health care provider, health professional, primary care provider
    a person who helps in identifying or preventing or treating illness or disability
    attorney, lawyer
    a professional person authorized to practice law; conducts lawsuits or gives legal advice
    bibliothec, librarian
    a professional person trained in library science and engaged in library services
    practician, practitioner
    someone who practices a learned profession
    a person engaged in publishing periodicals or books or music
    a young upwardly mobile professional individual; a well-paid middle-class professional who works in a city and has a luxurious life style
    academic, academician, faculty member
    an educator who works at a college or university
    advocate, counsel, counsellor, counselor, counselor-at-law, pleader
    a lawyer who pleads cases in court
    ambulance chaser
    an unethical lawyer who incites accident victims to sue
    art critic
    a critic of paintings
    a British or Canadian lawyer who speaks in the higher courts of law on behalf of either the defense or prosecution
    someone (not necessarily a licensed physician) who sets broken bones
    career girl
    a woman who is a careerist
    career man
    a man who is a careerist
    cataloger, cataloguer
    a librarian who classifies publication according to a categorial system
    a practitioner (of medicine or psychology) who does clinical work instead of laboratory experiments
    a lawyer who specializes in the business of conveying properties
    defense attorney, defense lawyer
    the lawyer representing the defendant
    divorce lawyer
    a lawyer specializing in actions for divorce or annulment
    drama critic, theater critic
    a critic of theatrical performances
    someone skilled in the use of electricity to remove moles or warts or hair roots
    a practitioner of the affected elegant style of the Spanish poet Gongora
    homeopath, homoeopath
    a practitioner of homeopathy
    lector, lecturer, reader
    a public lecturer at certain universities
    literary critic
    a critic of literature
    medical assistant
    a person trained to assist medical professionals
    medical man, medical practitioner
    someone who practices medicine
    music critic
    a critic of musical performances
    newspaper critic
    a critic who writes a column for the newspapers
    one skilled in caring for young children or the sick (usually under the supervision of a physician)
    apothecary, chemist, druggist, pharmacist, pill pusher, pill roller
    a health professional trained in the art of preparing and dispensing drugs
    head, head teacher, principal, school principal
    the educator who has executive authority for a school
    prosecuting attorney, prosecuting officer, prosecutor, public prosecutor
    a government official who conducts criminal prosecutions on behalf of the state
    public defender
    a lawyer who represents indigent defendants at public expense
    an attorney appointed by a court to investigate and report on a case
    any person (or institution) who acts as an educator
    a British lawyer who gives legal advice and prepares legal documents
    instructor, teacher
    a person whose occupation is teaching
    trial attorney, trial lawyer
    a lawyer who specializes in defending clients before a court of law
    type of:
    adult, grownup
    a fully developed person from maturity onward
  7. noun
    an authority qualified to teach apprentices
    synonyms: master
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    past master
    someone who was formerly a master
    type of:
    an expert whose views are taken as definitive
  8. noun
    an athlete who plays for pay
    synonyms: pro
    see moresee less
    an athlete who does not play for pay
    free agent
    (sports) a professional athlete who is free to sign a contract to play for any team
    semipro, semiprofessional
    an athlete who plays for pay on a part-time basis
    type of:
    athlete, jock
    a person trained to compete in sports
DISCLAIMER: These example sentences appear in various news sources and books to reflect the usage of the word ‘professional'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of or its editors. Send us feedback
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