The word "military profile" is sometimes in the news.

For example,

(1) India Monday said it was 'conscious and watchful' of China's growing military profile and... (2) NATO to raise military profile around Kosovo.(Headline)

According to Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, "profile" means: 1. a side view of someone's head 2. a short description that gives important details about a person, a group of people, or a place 3. something that is high profile is noticed by many people or gets a lot of attention 4. to behave quietly and avoid doing things that will make people notice you 5. if a person or an organization raises its profile, it gets more attention from the public 6. an edge or shape of something seen against a background

In this case, "profile" probably refers to the definition of 5. But I am not sure what (1) and (2) mean. Does "military profile" mean "military might", military role", or "military WHAT"? What would you paraphrase this word as?

  • No, I think your examples are (2). That's why they say "growing" or "raise", since by itself "profile" would just mean the details of the military in that setting.
    – GEdgar
    Jul 4, 2012 at 14:51

3 Answers 3


In this case, the meaning of "profile" is not adequately described by any of the dictionary terms.

The word profile in the first case refers to "military might" and stands for "military presence" in the second example.

In a metaphorical sense, the outline (edge/shape) of the military becomes more visible against the background as it grows (corresponding to the definition no. 6 in the Longman DCE).


I believe it's related to Defintion 3, (or perhaps Definition 5, as you suggested, but, if that's the case, the definition needs to be interpreted in a slightly more generic sense).

In this case, it's not so much public attention that's being raised, as it is the attention from those who are monitoring the situation (in this case, that might be the geopolitical intelligence communities, as opposed to the general public).

Put another way, if a corporation wants to raise its profile (i.e., its corporate image), it can do so by starting a new advertising campaign, or perhaps by giving out free samples in a wide range of national markets.

On the other hand, if a country wants to raise its military profile in a certain area, it usually does so by moving military components to that area. (This might be troops and tanks, or a peacekeeping force, or, in a seaside area, it might even be an aircraft carrier.)

As for synonyms in this context, I might suggest presence or prominence.


The way that "profile" is used in "military profile" comes from the verb version of "profile". To profile someone would be to observe him or her and make assumptions about them based on those observations. In The USA, "profiling someone" often involves making a guess about how strong or dangerous he or she is.

Therefore, a "military profile" (at least to me) is the amount of military might a country has.

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