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From Biology-Online Dictionary
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1. 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. Hear me profess sincerely. The best and wisest of them all professed To know this only, that he nothing knew. (milton)

2. To set up a claim to; to make presence to; hence, to put on or present an appearance of. I do profess to be no less than I seem. (Shak)

3. 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); as, he professes surgery; to profess one's self a physician.

Origin: F. Profes, masc, professe, fem, professed (monk or nun), L. Professus, p. P. Of profiteri to profess; pro before, forward _ fateri to confess, own. See Confess.