phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by Dg on February 06, 2003

In Reply to: Thanks posted by Word Camel on January 14, 2003

: : : I'm just wondering if anyone knows the origin of the term. I have heard it used as a verb. "Stop profiling me." Was it used as a euphamism, I wonder? If so, what for?

: : : As an aside, I'm wondering if this degenerate and sinister transformation of nouns into verbs (transitioning, etc.) is a uniquely American phenomenon. I can't recall a British equivalent but perhaps our friends across the pond know of some.

: : : Camel

: : I couldn't find anything on that phrase. I did find:

: : PROFILE - "n. a (characteristic) way of presenting oneself to the world. Typically used in the phrase 'low profile,' first recorded in 1970." From "20th Century Words: The Story of New Words in English Over the Last 100 Years" by John Ayto (Oxford University Press, New York, 1999).

: I have seen one article that says it originated in the New Jersy law suit, but I am sceptical. I think it might have come from the FBI. It's really hard to know where to start looking for this sort of thing.

Some info having witnessed the genesis of the term "racial profiling" in local media. It is derived from the criminal investigation term "profile" roughly meaning "a psychological, social, etc. description of a suspect based on the nature of the crime".

"Profile" as a verb could thus be a synonym for "stereotype" or "pre-judge"

The term "racial profiling" roughly means "stereotyping a person as a suspect of a particular crime based on race or ethnicity."

To the best of my memory, this term did first enter mainstream media in the states after the February 4, 1999 lawsuit by New Jersey State Trooper Emblez Longoria v. The State of New Jersey. I can't turn up any earlier use in web searches.

After just 2 days of being assigned to the NJ Turnpike Patrol, Mr. Emblez Longoria alleged that he was pressured by superiors to make unwarranted, racially motivated stops which targeted minority drivers, specifically young, Black and Hispanic males, in order to meet his quota for drug seizures. Apparently they were unaware Mr. Longoria was Hispanic. Within a week a NJ state government probe was launched into these allegations, including other prior incidents. But it was this incident which made "racial profiling" a buzzword for every nightly newscast and roundtable, activist type discussion show well into the year 2000.

cheers from NJ,