A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of high rank. In much of the world, including most Commonwealth nations and northern Europe professor is reserved only for the most senior academics at a university, typically a department chair, or an awarded chair specifically bestowed recognizing an individuaI at a university or similar institution. A professor is a highly accomplished and recognized academic, and the title is in most cases awarded only after decades of scholarly work to senior academics. In the United States and Canada the title of professor is granted to most scholars with doctorate degrees or equivalent qualifications who teach in two- and four-year colleges and universities, and is used in the titles assistant professor and associate professor, which are not considered professor-level positions in many other countries, as well as for full professors.
Beyond holding the proper academic title, universities in many countries also append famous artists, athletes and foreign dignitaries with the title honorary professor, even if these persons don't have the academic qualifications typically necessary for professorship. However, such "professors" usually do not undertake academic work for the granting institution.