1. the use of personal characteristics or behavior patterns to make generalizations about a person, as in gender profiling.
  2. the use of these characteristics to determine whether a person may be engaged in illegal activity, as in racial profiling.


  1. the practice of categorizing people and predicting their behaviour according to particular characteristics such as race or ageracial profiling

by 1852 as a term in field engineering, verbal noun from profile (v.). The racial/ethnic stereotyping sense is attested from c.1991, American English.

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