If a magazine editor asks you to write a profile of an up-and-coming novelist, she's asking you to write a biographical sketch, to give the readers a sense of the novelist as a person.

Profile comes from the Italian profilo, the thin colored border of cloth that outlines a garment. It came to mean any kind of sketch or outline, especially of faces. If someone compliments your profile means you look nice from the side (try outlining from other angles). If you have a criminal profile, your criminal record creates a picture of an active life of crime. A profile is also a drawing of the earth in cross-section, showing layers of crust.

Primary Meanings of profile

an outline of something (especially a human face as seen from one side)
represent in profile, by drawing or painting
biographical sketch
write about
Full Definitions of profile

n an outline of something (especially a human face as seen from one side)

Type of:
side view
a view from the side of something

n a vertical section of the Earth's crust showing the different horizons or layers

soil profile
a vertical section of soil from the ground surface to the parent rock
Type of:
cross section
a section created by a plane cutting a solid perpendicular to its longest axis

n an analysis (often in graphical form) representing the extent to which something exhibits various characteristics

“a biochemical profile of blood”
“a psychological profile of serial killers”
population profile
a chart showing the number of people as a function of their ages
Type of:
a visual display of information

v represent in profile, by drawing or painting

Type of:
interpret, represent
create an image or likeness of

n biographical sketch

Type of:
biography, life, life history, life story
an account of the series of events making up a person's life

n degree of exposure to public notice

low profile
a state of low visibility in which public notice is avoided
Type of:
salience, saliency, strikingness
the state of being salient

v write about

“The author of this article profiles a famous painter”
Type of:
compose, indite, pen, write
produce a literary work

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