[ uh-bout ]
/ əˈbaʊt /
of; concerning; in regard to: instructions about the work; a book about the Civil War.
connected or associated with: There was an air of mystery about him.
near; close to: a man about my height; about six o'clock.
in or somewhere near: He is about the house.
on every side of; around: the railing about the excavation.
on or near (one's person): They lost all they had about them.
so as to be of use to: Keep your wits about you.
on the verge or point of (usually followed by an infinitive): about to leave.
here or there; in or on: to wander about the old castle.
concerned with; engaged in doing: Tell me what it's about. Bring me the other book while you're about it.
near in time, number, degree, etc.; approximately: It's about five miles from here.
nearly; almost: Dinner is about ready.
nearby; not far off: He is somewhere about.
on every side; in every direction; around: Look about and see if you can find it.
halfway around; in the opposite direction: to turn a car about.
from one place to another; in this place or that: to move furniture about; important papers strewn about.
in rotation or succession; alternately: Turn about is fair play.
in circumference: a wheel two inches about.
- onto a new tack.
- onto a new course.
moving around; astir: He was up and about while the rest of us still slept.
in existence; current; prevalent: Chicken pox is about.
Origin of about
before 900; Middle English aboute(n), Old English abūtan, onbūtan on the outside of (a- a-1 + būtan outside (see but1, but2), equivalent to b(e) by1 + ūtan), cognate with Gothic utana, Old Norse, Old Saxon ūtan, Old Frisian ūta, Old High German ūzan(a) outside; see out; cf. above, abaft for formation
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for about
/ (əˈbaʊt) /
relating to; concerning; on the subject of
near or close to (in space or time)
carried onI haven't any money about me
on every side of; all the way around
active in or engaged inshe is about her business
- on the point of; intending toshe was about to jump
- (with a negative) determined not tonobody is about to miss it
approximately; near in number, time, degree, etcabout 50 years old
here and there; from place to place; in no particular directionwalk about to keep warm
all around; on every side
in or to the opposite directionhe turned about and came back
in rotation or revolutionturn and turn about
used in informal phrases to indicate understatementI've had just about enough of your insults; it's about time you stopped
archaic in circumference; around
(predicative) active; astir after sleepup and about
(predicative) in existence, current, or in circulationthere aren't many about nowadays
Word Origin for about
Old English abūtan, onbūtan on the outside of, around, from on + būtan outside
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Idioms and Phrases with about
In addition to the idioms beginning with about
- about time
- about to
- at about
- beat about the bush
- bring about
- cast about
- come about
- do an about-face
- get about
- go about (one's business)
- how about (that)
- just about
- knock about
- lay about
- man about town
- nose about (around)
- no two ways about it
- order someone about
- out and about
- see about
- send someone about someone's business
- set about
- that's about the size of it
- up and about
- what about someone (something)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.