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The original meaning of ‘professional’ was someone who had a religious calling, in order to profess one's faith. The word then took on a wider meaning, not just a person who joined a religious order, but one who had a particular trade or vocation. By the nineteenth century, the ‘professions’ had come to mean occupations generally carried out by the middle class. Today a professional is someone in a line of work that requires a specific qualification, such as a lawyer, doctor or teacher. There is also the distinction in sport between the professional, who plays a game in order to make a living, and the amateur, who does it for fun.

Recognition of the ‘professions’ was part of the coming-to-power of the British middle ...

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