PRODIGY, an extraordinary or wonderful thing, person, event, &c.; something which excites amazement and astonishment. The term has been particularly applied to children who display a precocious genius, especially in music. The German expression Wunderkind has of late been often adopted by those who have found the name “infant prodigy” too reminiscent of the “ infant phenomenon ” familiar to readers of Dickens. The Lat. prodigium, an omen, portent, and abnormal or monstrous event, is probably not to be derived from pro and dicere, to foretell, prophesy, but rather, on the analogy of adagium, adage, aphorism, from pro (prot before a vowel), and the root of aio, I say.
PRODUCTION (Lat. produhtionern, from producers, to produce), in general, the act of producing, or bringing forth. Production, in contrast with distribution and consumption, is one of the great divisions which all treatises on economics make in dealing with the subject, and as such it is defined in every textbook and its elements and processes dealt with at length. ]. R. McCulloch's definition may be given as one difficult to improve on: “ by production, in the science of political economy, we are not to understand the production of matter, for that is the exclusive attribute of Omnipotence, but the production of utility, and consequently, of exchangeable value, by appropriating and modifying matter already in existence, so as to fit it to satisfy our wants, and to contribute to our enjoyments.” W. S. ]evons says, “production is one of the very few happily chosen terms which the economist possesses. Etymologically the term implies that we draw wealth forth, and this is the correct idea of production.” Though the mere definition of “production ” as the creation of utilities is apparently simple enough, the treatment of the subject has varied from time to time in proportion to the changes which economic science has itself undergone; it has been said that the theory of production is based on unalterable natural facts, but even this cannot be too absolutely stated, for the organization of production changes with social growth. Much discussion has, during the growth of the science of economics, centred round what is and what is not productive or unproductive, and as to the relative importance of the functions of production and distribution. See E. Canaan's History 3' the Theories of Production and Distribution (1893). and the stan ard treatises on economics. Also the articles, CAPITAL; VALUE; WEALTH.
PROFANITY, irreverent or blasphemous language, swearing, by the use of words casting derision on sacred or divine things, especially the taking of the name of God in vain (see BLASPHEMY; and SWEARING). The word “ profane, ” derived from Lat. profanum, outside the temple (fanum), hence opposed to sacrnm or religiosum, in the sense of not sacred, common, is used in English not only as meaning irreverent, or blasphemous, but also in the senses of the original Latin, not initiated into sacred mysteries, hence, lay, secular, or as referring to subjects not connected with sacred or biblical matters, e. g. profane literature, history, &c.
PROFESSOR (the Latin noun formed from the verb projiteri, to declare publicly, to acknowledge, profess), a term now properly confined to a teacher of a special grade at a university. Its former significance of one who has made “profession” or open acknowledgment of religious belief, or, in particular, has made a promise binding the maker to a religious order, is now obsolete. The educational use is found in post-Augustan Latin, and projiteri is used by Pliny (Ep. 18, 3, iv. 11, 14), absolutely, in the sense of “ to be a teacher, ” an extension of the classical use in the sense of to practise, profess a science or art, e.g. projiteri jus, medicinal, philosophiam, &c. In the universities of the middle ages the conferring of a degree in any faculty or branch of learning meant the right or qualification to teach in that faculty, whence the terms magister, “ master, ” and doctor for those on whom the degree had been granted. To these names must be added that of “professor.” The “ three titles of Master, Doctor, Professor, were in the middle ages absolutely synonymous ” (H. Rashdall, The Universities of Europe in the Middle A ges, 1895, i. ZI). At Paris in the faculties of theology, medicine and arts professor is more frequently used than doctor but less so than magister; at Bologna the teachers of law are known as profess ores or doctores (id.). From this position to that of the holder of an endowed “ chair, ” the occupant of which is the principal public teacher of the particular faculty, the evolution was gradual. The first endowed professorship at Oxford was that of divinity, founded by the mother of Henry VII. in 1497 (? I 502) and named after her the “ Margaret Professorship.” The foundation of the regius professorship by Henry VIII., in 1546 no doubt, as the New English Dictionary points out, tended to the general modern use of the word. Subordinate public teachers in faculties or in subjects to which a professorial “ chair ” is attached, are known as “ readers '? or “ lecturers, ” and these titles are also used for the principal public teachers in subjects which have not reached professorial] rank.,
PROFILE, an outline or.contour drawing, particularly the drawing of the outline of the human face as seen from the side, or in architecture the contour of a part of a building, of a moulding, &c., as shown by a vertical section. In fortification the “ profile ” of an earthwork is an outline of a transverse section and gives the relative thickness; so a work is said, to be “ of strong ” or “ of weak ” profile. The Fr. profil, formerly porjil, ponrjil, Ital. projilo, projilo, are formed from Lat. pro, and jilare, to draw a line, filurn, thread.
The French pourjil also gave English “purfle, " to embroider the edge of a fabric with gold or other thread; this was further corrupted to “ purl, " now often wrongly spelt “ pearl, ” an inverted stitch in knitting.
PROFIT-SHARING (i.e. between employer and employed), a method of remunerating labour, under which the employees receive, in addition to ordinary wages, a share of the profit which the business realizes. The term is not infrequently used loosely to include many forms of addition to ordinary wages, such as bonus on output or quality, gain-sharing and product bearing. Yet strictly, where an employee or a group works for a share of the product, or is paid so muchin addition to ordinary wages in proportion as the product exceeds a certain quantity, or the quality exceeds a certain standard, in neither of these cases have we profit-sharing, for the net result of the business may be a large profit or a small one or a loss, and the employee's claim is unaffected. In the same way if a Workman is employed on the basis that if in doing a particular job he saves something out of a stipulated time of labour, or a stipulated amount of materials, he shall receive in addition to ordinary wages a proportion of the value so saved, that is technically gain-sharing, not profit-sharing. Even where the bonus depends strictly on profit, it is not reckoned as profit-sharing, if it is confined to the leading employees.
An agreement is of the essence of the matter. It is not profit sharing where an employer takes something from his profits at his own will and pleasure, and gives it to his employees. Strictly such gifts in cash are gratuities, while, when they take other forms, such as better houses, libraries, recreation rooms, provision for sickness and old age, all given at the will of the employer, we have paternalism. Such benefits thus taken expressly from profits and varying more or less with the amount of profit certainly approach true proit-sharing: they are sometimes called “indeterminate ” profit-sharing. Though many of the above methods of remunerating, or benefiting, the employed are from time to time included under profit-sharing even by Writers of repute, the strict sense of the term was defined by the international congress on profit-sharing in 1889 as “ an agreement freely entered into by which the employed receives a share of profits determined in advance.” It does not follow that the agreement must be actually enforceable at law; some employers to protect themselves from litigation stipulate that it shall not be.Proht-sharing, in the loose sense, must be of untold antiquity; the first great example of profit-sharing in the strict sense is that of the Parisian house-painter, Edme-Jean Leclaire, “ The Father of Profit-Sharing.” In 1842 he was employing 300 men