Green’s Dictionary of Slang

profesh n.

also perfesh

1. (US tramp) a professional, fulltime vagrant; thus the world of tramping.

[[UK]Besant & Rice By Celia’s Arbour III 185: Pro-fesh burglar. Cracker of cribs. That’s what I am].
[US]Pop. Science Dec. 253: Josiah Flynt, in his articles on tramps, has taken only the elite of the ‘profesh’.
[US]J. London ‘The Road’ in Hendricks & Shepherd Jack London Reports (1970) 311–21: The Simon-pure tramp, hence professional, calls himself ‘The Profesh.’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 8 July 5/2: Baker is alleged to be the best amateur stousher in the profesh.
[US]J. London Road 114: He was a true ‘profesh,’ a ‘blowed-in-the-glass’ stiff.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 12: One of the profesh? A reglar blown-in-the-glass stiff?
[US] ‘Jargon of the Und.’ in DN V 459: Profesh, The professional tramp of the highest grade.

2. a profession, esp. the criminal or theatrical profession.

[US]Cincinnati Enquirer 7 Sept. 10/7: Slush and German Decoction—Greet the ears of our Teutonic saloon-keepers when any of the ‘profesh’ [i.e. actors] call for beer.
[US]L.A. Dly Herald 15 Nov. 5/3: Small boy (at theater door)- ‘Do ye admit de profesh to dis show fer nothin?’ Door keeper- ‘What profesh, Johnny?’ Small boy- ‘Why, de teatrical profesh of course’.
Music Hall & Theatre Rev 16 Feb. 11/1: Can you tell us anything about the [...] cornstalkers’retreat [and] the profesh in Melbourne and Sydney?
Herald (Los Angeles) 15 Mar. 18/6: In this era in pugdom [...] the putting up of props is now considered proper by the ‘profesh’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 10 Aug. 22/4: The profesh in Australia’s going to the deuce, dear boy. I’m off to London.
[US]Seattle Repub. (WA) 11 Aug. 37/1: That might look too much like wanting to make an honest living, and it would never do for such an impression to get out among the perfesh.
[UK]E. Pugh City Of The World 262: But that ain’t what you might call his regular profesh.
O.O. McIntyre N.Y. Day by Day 1 Nov. [synd. col.] They will be taught how to horn in [...] and other little knick knacks of the profesh.
[US]D. Hammett ‘Corkscrew’ Story Omnibus (1966) 221: I never could learn to take ’em down there. That’s what beat me in the profesh.
[US]L. Pound ‘Guide to Variety’ AS XV:2 205/1: profesh. Profession.
[US]W. Winchell On Broadway 13 May [synd. col.] Mrs Eugene Mayer’s stiff-arm job on professional Allkan Zoll [...] is still the talk of the literary profesh.

3. a professional, e.g. a politician.

Louisiana Populaist (Nachitoches, LA) 28 Feb. 2/2: If white supremacy were really settled the masses would get together on real live issues and the ‘profesh’ in politics would be knocked out.
E.W. Townsend ‘Chimmie fadden’ 12 Nov. [synd. col.] The shuffer wasn’t a profesh but a gent what owned it [i.e. am automobile].