Word Confusion: Profit versus Prophet

Posted December 29, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 4 October 2017

Yep, another pair of heterographs, profit and prophet. Mammon and God. An etymological chat and a look at philosophy.

Matthew 6:24 claims that you cannot serve God and mammon both with mammon being all about profiting from your fellowman whereas God is about compassion. Now mistaking profit for prophet, well, that really sends the wrong impression.

So, why would you want to sabotage your own story?

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Profit Prophet
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

A close-up of a building on Wall Street

“Wall Street and Broadway” is Fletcher6’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL license, via Wikimedia Commons

Wall Street is the symbol of profit in America.

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Jewish Encyclopedia (1906—1913)

“Brockhaus and Efron Jewish Encyclopedia” is by an unknown artist and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Moses is one of the Bible’s prophets.

Part of Grammar:
Verb, intransitive & transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: profits
Past tense or past participle: profited
Gerund or present participle: profiting

Plural: prophets

FEMININE: prophetess, prophetesses

A financial gain, especially the difference between the amount earned and the amount spent in buying, operating, or producing something

  • Advantage
  • Benefit

Verb, intransitive:
Obtain a financial advantage or benefit, especially from an investment

  • Obtain an advantage or benefit

Verb, transitive:
Be beneficial to

Person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God

  • [The Prophet (among Muslims)] Muhammad
  • [The Prophet (among Mormons)] Joseph Smith or one of his successors
  • Person who advocates or speaks in a visionary way about a new belief, cause, or theory
  • Person who makes or claims to be able to make predictions

[The Prophets] The prophetic writings of the Old Testament or Hebrew scriptures, in particular:

  • [In Christian use] The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets
  • [In Jewish use] One of the three canonical divisions of the Hebrew Bible, distinguished from the Law and the Hagiographa, and comprising the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve minor prophets
That will be in the form of pretax profits.

His eyes brightened at the prospect of profit.

There’s no profit in screaming at referees from the bench.

Verb, intransitive:
The only people to profit from the entire episode were the lawyers.

He profited greatly from his schooling.

Not all children would profit from this kind of schooling.

Verb, transitive:
It would profit us to change our plans.

The only people to profit from the entire episode were the lawyers.

Nothing profits one so much as a sound education.

The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah served as one of God’s prophets through the rule of five kings of Judah.

He was a prophet of revolutionary socialism.

The anti-technology prophets of doom decry our dependence upon our gadgets.

Adjective: nonprofit, profitless, proprofit
Adverb: profitlessly
Noun: nonprofit, profiteer, profiter, profitlessness
Adjective: prophetless, prophetlike
Noun: prophethood, prophetess
History of the Word:
Middle English in the sense of advantage, benefit is from the Old French, from Latin profectus meaning progress, profit, which is from proficere meaning to advance, which is from pro- (on behalf of) + facere (do). The verb is from Old French profiter. Middle English from the Old French prophete via Latin from Greek prophētēs meaning spokesman, from pro (before) + phētēs (speaker) from phēnai meaning speak.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Bakker Guilty Headline courtesy of the Charlotte Observer is via Mississippi Mud and Fark.com. The book cover, Ministry of Green by Larry Martz, is via Goodreads.com. Everybody Get Your Wallets Out is courtesy of Pinterest.