Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To affirm openly; declare or claim: "a physics major [who] professes to be a stickler when it comes to data” ( Gina Maranto).
  • transitive v. To make a pretense of; pretend: "top officials who were deeply involved with the arms sales but later professed ignorance of them” ( David Johnston).
  • transitive v. To practice as a profession or claim knowledge of: profess medicine.
  • transitive v. To teach (a subject) as a professor: profess literature.
  • transitive v. To affirm belief in: profess Catholicism.
  • transitive v. To receive into a religious order or congregation.
  • intransitive v. To make an open affirmation.
  • intransitive v. To take the vows of a religious order or congregation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To take a profession upon one's self by a public declaration; to confess.
  • intransitive v. To declare friendship.
  • transitive v. To make open declaration of, as of one's knowledge, belief, action, etc.; to avow or acknowledge; to confess publicly; to own or admit freely.
  • transitive v. To set up a claim to; to make presence to; hence, to put on or present an appearance of.
  • transitive v. To present to knowledge of, to proclaim one's self versed in; to make one's self a teacher or practitioner of, to set up as an authority respecting; to declare (one's self to be such)

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To declare openly; make open declaration of; avow or acknowledge; own freely; affirm.
  • To acknowledge or own publicly; also, to lay claim openly to the character of.
  • To affirm faith in or allegiance to: as, to profess Christianity.
  • To make a show of; make protestations of; make a pretense of; pretend.
  • To announce publicly one's skill in, as a science or a profession; declare one's self versed in: as, to profess surgery.
  • In the Rom. Cath. and Anglican churches, to receive into a religious order by profession.
  • To present the appearance of.
  • Synonyms and To declare, allege, aver, avouch.
  • To lay claim to.
  • To declare openly; make any declaration or assertion.
  • To enter into the religious state by public declaration or profession.
  • To declare or pretend friendship.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. state freely
  • v. practice as a profession, teach, or claim to be knowledgeable about
  • v. admit (to a wrongdoing)
  • v. confess one's faith in, or allegiance to
  • v. take vows, as in religious order
  • v. state insincerely
  • v. receive into a religious order or congregation

Etymologies

Middle English professen, to take vows, from Old French profes, that has taken a religious vow (from Medieval Latin professus, avowed) and from Medieval Latin professāre, to administer a vow, both from Latin professus, past participle of profitērī, to affirm openly : pro-, forth; see pro-1 + fatērī, to acknowledge; see bhā-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman professer, and its source, the participle stem of Latin profitērī, from pro- + fatērī ("to confess, acknowledge"). (Wiktionary)

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