Profit generally is the making of gain in business activity for the benefit of the owners of the business. The word comes from Latin meaning "to make progress", is defined in two different ways, one for economics and one for accounting.
- Quotes are arranged alphabetically by author
A - F
- If vices were profitable, the virtuous man would be the sinner.
- Francis Bacon, Ornamenta Rationalia
- O proud philanthropist, your hope is vain To get by giving what you lost by gain.
- Ambrose Bierce, Epigrams, The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Volume 8, p. 349
- There are some sordid minds, formed of slime and filth, to whom interest and gain are what glory and virtue are to superior souls; they feel no other pleasure but to acquire money.
- La Bruyère, Characters, H. Van Laun, trans. (London: 1885) “Of The Gifts of Fortune,” #58
- The infinite, absolute character of Virtue has passed into a finite, conditional one; it is no longer a worship of the Beautiful and Good; but a calculation of the Profitable.
- Thomas Carlyle, Signs of the Times (1829)
- The promise of every product and service is a better life. Profits are the prize for delivering on the promise.
- Patrick Dixon, Building a Better Business, 2005, p. 88
G - L
- … actions whose motives he cannot understand—that is, actions not prompted by the hope of profit.
- André Gide, The Immoralist, R. Howard trans., p. 122
- He is like all the rest: a slave to profit, a master only to his bent for negotiating the best deal.
- Franz Grillparzer, Libussa (1872)
- What the English call “comfortable” is something endless and inexhaustible. Every condition of comfort reveals in turn its discomfort, and these discoveries go on for ever. Hence the new want is not so much a want of those who have it directly, but is created by those who hope to make profit from it.
- Hegel, Elements of the Philosophy of Right, S. Dyde, trans. (1896), § 191
- The thing we must do intensely is be human together. People are more important than things. We must get together. The best thing humans can have going for them is each other. We have each other. We must reject everything which humiliates us. Humans are not objects of consumption.
We must develop an absolute priority of humans ahead of profit — any humans ahead of any profit. Then we will survive. …
- Frank Herbert, "Introduction" to New World or No World (1970)
M - R
- For the corporation executives, the military metaphysic ... often coincides with their interest in a stable and planned flow of profit; it enables them to have their risk underwritten by public money; it enables them reasonably to expect that they can exploit for private profit now and later, the risky research developments paid for by public money. It is, in brief, a mask of the subsidized capitalism from which they extract profit and upon which their power is based.
- C. Wright Mills, The Causes of World War Three, 1960
- The love of gain, which is a large, incalculably large, element in every soul, when once applied to the desire for God, will bless the man who has it.
- Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity, Chapter 18
- When a firm makes a profit this means that productive factors have been properly employed and corresponding human needs have been duly satisfied.
- Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, 1991
- So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
- Proverbs 1:19
S - Z
- When by habit a man cometh to have a bargaining soul, its wings are cut, so that it can never soar. It bindeth reason an apprentice to gain, and instead of a director, maketh it a drudge.
- George Savile, Marquess of Halifax, “Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections,” Complete Works (Oxford:1912), p. 253
- Cui prodest scelus, is fecit.
- Who profits by a sin has done the sin.
- Seneca, Medea, lines 500-501 (Medea)
- Who profits by a sin has done the sin.
- Whoever has a keen eye for profits, is blind in relation to his craft.
- Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus', l:388
- Spend time on excellence, and love the right,
And don’t let shameful profit master you.
- Theognis, Elegies, Dorothea Wender, trans., 465
- In aristocracies, it is not precisely work that is scorned, but work with a view to profit. Work is glorious when ambition or virtue alone makes one undertake it. ... The idea of gain remains distinct from that of work. No matter that they are joined in fact. … In democratic societies, these two ideas are, on the contrary, always visibly united.
- Tocqueville, Democracy in America, H. Mansfield, trans. (Chicago: 2000), p. 525
- Private property ... has led Individualism entirely astray. It has made gain not growth its aim. So that man thought that the important thing was to have, and did not know that the important thing is to be. The true perfection of man lies, not in what man has, but in what man is.
- Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism, ¶ 15