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

  • n. A college or university teacher who ranks above an associate professor.
  • n. A teacher or instructor.
  • n. One who professes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A teacher or faculty member at a college or university.
  • n. A higher ranking for a teacher or faculty member at a college or university. Abbreviated Prof.
  • n. An honorific title for a higher ranking teacher. (Capitalised)
  • n. One who professes.
  • n. A pianist in a saloon, brothel, etc.
  • n. The puppeteer who performs a Punch and Judy show; a Punchman.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. One who professed, or makes open declaration of, his sentiments or opinions; especially, one who makes a public avowal of his belief in the Scriptures and his faith in Christ, and thus unites himself to the visible church.
  • n. One who professed, or publicly teaches, any science or branch of learning; especially, an officer in a university, college, or other seminary, whose business it is to read lectures, or instruct students, in a particular branch of learning; as a professor of theology, of botany, of mathematics, or of political economy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who professes; one who openly declares or makes profession of specific belief or views, of adherence to a certain course of action or way of life, or of knowledge or skill in any particular calling.
  • n. One who makes open profession of religious faith and conversion, and attaches himself to some religious denomination.
  • n. A public teacher in a university, especially one to whom this title has been formally granted.
  • n. In a loose use, any one who publicly teaches or exercises an art or occupation for pay, as a dancing-master, phrenologist, balloonist, juggler, acrobat, boxer, etc.
  • n. The name of an artificial fly used in angling.

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

  • n. someone who is a member of the faculty at a college or university


Middle English professour, from Old French professeur, from Latin professor, from professus, past participle of profitērī, to profess; see profess.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Anglo-Norman proffessur, from Latin professor ("declarer, person who claims knowledge"), from the past participle stem of profiteor ("profess"). (Wiktionary)


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  • My understanding of that prank in the video is that it was from a university-level class (I'd say "college-level" class, but that could confuse matters even more).

    I can think of times when "professor" is used as a form of antonomasia. For instance, there's a scene in "The Philadelphia Story" where Katherine Hepburn's character keeps calling Jimmy Stewart's character "professor," even though he's just a reporter. (

    April 8, 2014

  • I've seen two citations in the last week where a high school teacher was called a professor -
    Second citation was in this youtube video at 1:55 "Professor, Professor"

    Is calling High School teachers 'professor' a new thing?

    April 8, 2014

  • "Some boys go to college and eventually succeed in getting out. Others go to college and never succeed in getting out. The latter are called professors."
    - H. L. Mencken.

    September 29, 2008