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

adj of or relating to or suitable as a profession

professional organizations”
“a professional field such as law”

adj of or relating to a profession

“we need professional advice”
professional training”
professional equipment for his new office”

adj characteristic of or befitting a profession or one engaged in a profession

professional conduct”
professional ethics”
“a thoroughly professional performance”
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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adj 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

adj 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
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...

n a person engaged in one of the learned professions

professional person
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)
show 43 types...
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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

n an authority qualified to teach apprentices

past master
someone who was formerly a master
Type of:
an expert whose views are taken as definitive

n an athlete who plays for pay

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

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