Meaning of ABOUT in English


I. əˈbau̇t, usu -d.+V adverb

Etymology: Middle English about, abouten, from Old English abūtan, from a- (I) + būtan outside, without — more at but

1. : on all sides : in every direction : around

'tis time to look about — Shakespeare


a. : in rotation : round

they go about in circles

b. : around the outside : in circumference

the lake is a mile about and a half mile across

c. : in a circuitous way : round about

the river … is subject to frequent shifts of position, and winds about — P.E.James


a. : with some approach to exactness in quantity, number, or time : approximately

about four feet of snow

about eight o'clock

b. : almost : nearly

about as serious

: little less than

about starved

4. : here and there at random

tools lying about

: from one place to another

carry money about with him

5. : in the vicinity : near

he spoke to the people standing about

6. : in succession : one after the other : alternately

turn about is fair play


a. : in the opposite direction

face about

bring a ship about

: in reverse order

arranged the other way about

: from the contrary point of view

put the matter the other way about

b. : on the opposite tack — see come about

II. preposition

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English abūtan, from abūtan, adverb

1. : in a circle around : around

our thoughts revolve about ourselves

: on every side of

he found about him innumerable flowers


a. : in the immediate neighborhood of : near

fish are abundant about the reefs

b. : near or not far from in time

a night about midsummer

c. : by on on (one's person)

secreting money about him

d. : in or as a part of the makeup of

a mature wisdom about him

e. : at the command of : in readiness for the use of

he has his wits about him


a. : in the act or process of doing : engaged in

I put it in the form of a poem while I was about it — Eudora Welty

: concerned with

no idea of what American music is about

b. : on the point or verge of — usually used with following infinitive

about to enter the army

about to be graduated


a. — used as a function word to indicate that which is dealt with as the object of thought, feeling, or action

resentment about this state of affairs

or that to which reference is made

the most exciting thing about the adventure

b. : with regard to : concerning

c. : on the subject of

a novel about Spain

5. : over or in different parts of

he traveled about the country

: throughout

a well-known figure about the town

: here and there upon

the knife wounded him about the face and throat

III. adjective

Etymology: Middle English, from about, adverb

1. : stirring or moving from place to place : astir

few people were about on the streets

2. : being in evidence, in existence, or in circulation : abroad

plenty of money about

more reason and less emotion about — Herbert Hoover

3. : normally active or capable (as after a confining illness)

eager to be up and about again

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.