Damage per second (DPS, Damage Dealer or DD) is a measure of the damage dealt by a person, spell, weapon, or group over one second.
DPS (Damage per second) refers to a rate of damage expressed as D / T, where "D" is the total damage done, and "T" is the time in seconds over which the total damage was applied. Therefore if a character did 6000 total damage in a fight that lasted 30 seconds, his DPS would be 6000 / 30, or 200 DPS.
"DPS" is an acronym for "Damage Per Second," and as a rate is primarily used as a benchmark to find ways to improve a character's damage output, usually by fine-tuning statistics related to damage, upgrading gear, or by discovering more efficient ways to chain attacks in a damage rotation to increase damage output.
In general, longer fights yield more accurate measurements of a character's DPS capabilities. Shorter fights are more dependent on doing maximum damage quickly. Such damage is commonly referred to as "burst" or "spike" damage. These terms serve to differentiate the common types of damage-dealing classes, since one may be better at applying a large amount of damage over a very short period of time (burst) while another may be superior in applying a large amount of damage over a longer period of time. The latter type of class is often referred to generally as a "DPS class."
This term can be used as an adjective, noun and is often informally used as a verb.
DPS is used as an adjective to describe a style of play. For example, a class, build, or soul whose primary purpose is to do high damage over time, might be referred to as a "DPS class" or "DPS soul."
Example: "We're not doing damage fast enough to beat this boss. We need you to change to a DPS soul."
In standard use when referring specifically to a rate of damage, DPS is a noun.
"My DPS was 550, but since I added this new skill, it has gone up to 625!" "David, I looked at the parses of that fight, and your DPS needs to improve."
DPS is often used informally as a noun in the following fashion: "Jack switched from being a tank to being a DPS."
In the above example, the true noun being omitted is "class" as in "to being a DPS class." By omitting the object of the adjective, DPS becomes the informal noun.
DPS is often used informally as a verb in the following fashion:
"We have John to heal for us. You need to DPS." "We're running out of mana. DPS faster!" "I don't like healing. I prefer DPSing."