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.
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.
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.
relating to; concerning; on the subject of
near or close to (in space or time)
carried on: I haven’t any money about me
on every side of; all the way around
active in or engaged in: she is about her business
on the point of; intending to: she was about to jump
(with a negative) determined not to: nobody is about to miss it
approximately; near in number, time, degree, etc: about 50 years old
here and there; from place to place; in no particular direction: walk about to keep warm
all around; on every side
in or to the opposite direction: he turned about and came back
in rotation or revolution: turn and turn about
used in informal phrases to indicate understatement: I’ve had just about enough of your insults, it’s about time you stopped
(archaic) in circumference; around
(predicative) active; astir after sleep: up and about
(predicative) in existence, current, or in circulation: there aren’t many about nowadays
Old English abutan, earlier onbutan “on the outside of,” from on (see on) + be “by” (see by) + utan “outside,” from ut (see out (adv.)). By 13c. it had forced out Old English ymbe, ymbutan for meaning “in the neighborhood of.” Abouts, with adverbial genitive, still found in hereabouts, etc., probably is a northern dialectal form. About face as a military command (short for right about face) is first attested 1861, American English.
beat about the bush
do an about-face
go about (one’s business)
how about (that)
man about town
nose about (around)
no two ways about it
order someone about
out and about
send someone about someone’s business
that’s about the size of it
up and about
what about someone (something)
- About face
(used as a military command to perform an about-face). Military. a turn of 180° from the position of attention. a complete, sudden change in position, direction, principle, attitude, etc.: They’ve done an about-face in their foreign policy. to execute an about face. to turn in the opposite direction. to switch to an opposite opinion.
- About ship
(as a command) put the ship about. Nautical. to tack. verb -ships, -shipping, -shipped (intransitive) (nautical) to manoeuvre a vessel onto a new tack
- About that
about that Related Terms sorry about that
- About time
Long past the right time; also, approximately the right time. Thus, It’s about time you went to bed can mean either that you should have gone to bed much earlier (often stated with emphasis on the word time), or that now is the appropriate time for you to retire. [ Early 1900s ] For a […]
- About to
Ready to, on the verge of, as in I was about to leave when it began to rain, or He hasn’t finished yet but he’s about to. This usage was first recorded in Miles Coverdale’s 1535 translation of the Bible (Joshua 18:8). not about to. Having no intention of doing something, as in The shop […]