[ uh-bout ]
See synonyms for about on Thesaurus.com
  1. of; concerning; in regard to: instructions about the work;a book about the Civil War.

  2. connected or associated with: There was an air of mystery about him.

  1. near; close to: a man about my height;about six o'clock.

  2. in or somewhere near: He is about the house.

  3. on every side of; around: the railing about the excavation.

  4. on or near (one's person): They lost all they had about them.

  5. so as to be of use to: Keep your wits about you.

  6. on the verge or point of (usually followed by an infinitive): about to leave.

  7. here or there in, on, or over: to wander about the old castle;to look about the auditorium at the audience.

  8. concerned with; engaged in doing: Tell me what it's about.Bring me the other book while you're about it.

  1. near in time, number, degree, etc.; approximately: It's about five miles from here.

  2. nearly; almost: Dinner is about ready.

  1. nearby; not far off: He is somewhere about.

  2. on every side; in every direction; around: Look about and see if you can find it.

  3. halfway around; in the opposite direction: to turn a car about.

  4. from one place to another; in this place or that: to move furniture about;important papers strewn about.

  5. in rotation or succession; alternately: Turn about is fair play.

  6. in circumference: a wheel two inches about.

  7. Nautical.

    • onto a new tack.

    • onto a new course.

  1. moving around; astir: He was up and about while the rest of us still slept.

  2. in existence; current; prevalent: Chicken pox is about.

Origin of about

First recorded before 900; Middle English aboute(n), Old English abūtan, onbūtan “on the outside of,” equivalent to a-1 + but1; cognate with Gothic utana, Old Norse, Old Saxon ūtan, Old Frisian ūta, Old High German ūzan(a) “outside”; see out

Words Nearby about

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use about in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for about


/ (əˈbaʊt) /

  1. relating to; concerning; on the subject of

  2. near or close to (in space or time)

  1. carried on: I haven't any money about me

  2. on every side of; all the way around

  3. active in or engaged in: she is about her business

  4. about to

    • on the point of; intending to: she was about to jump

    • (with a negative) determined not to: nobody is about to miss it

  1. approximately; near in number, time, degree, etc: about 50 years old

  2. nearby

  1. here and there; from place to place; in no particular direction: walk about to keep warm

  2. all around; on every side

  3. in or to the opposite direction: he turned about and came back

  4. in rotation or revolution: turn and turn about

  5. used in informal phrases to indicate understatement: I've had just about enough of your insults; it's about time you stopped

  6. archaic in circumference; around

  1. (predicative) active; astir after sleep: up and about

  2. (predicative) in existence, current, or in circulation: there aren't many about nowadays

Origin of 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

Other Idioms and Phrases with about


In addition to the idioms beginning with about

  • about time
  • about to

also see:

  • 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.