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about

[uh-bout] /əˈbaʊt/
preposition
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.
3.
near; close to:
a man about my height; about six o'clock.
4.
in or somewhere near:
He is about the house.
5.
on every side of; around:
the railing about the excavation.
6.
on or near (one's person):
They lost all they had about them.
7.
so as to be of use to:
Keep your wits about you.
8.
on the verge or point of (usually followed by an infinitive):
about to leave.
9.
here or there; in or on:
to wander about the old castle.
10.
concerned with; engaged in doing:
Tell me what it's about. Bring me the other book while you're about it.
adverb
11.
near in time, number, degree, etc.; approximately:
It's about five miles from here.
12.
nearly; almost:
Dinner is about ready.
13.
nearby; not far off:
He is somewhere about.
14.
on every side; in every direction; around:
Look about and see if you can find it.
15.
halfway around; in the opposite direction:
to turn a car about.
16.
from one place to another; in this place or that:
to move furniture about; important papers strewn about.
17.
in rotation or succession; alternately:
Turn about is fair play.
18.
in circumference:
a wheel two inches about.
19.
Nautical.
  1. onto a new tack.
  2. onto a new course.
adjective
20.
moving around; astir:
He was up and about while the rest of us still slept.
21.
in existence; current; prevalent:
Chicken pox is about.
Origin
900
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) by + 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 Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for about
  • To find reference information about the words used in this article, double-click on any word, phrase or name.
  • Reports say about 45 to 50 positions in the buying group were eliminated.
  • Learn more about hurricanes and the brave scientists who study them up close.
  • The more a man learns about boating, the more questions he knows how to ask.
  • Good technology is not just about features.
  • One of the great things about having a large children's section in my store is the kids.
  • I've played the beta for about 10 hours and I don't understand why everyone is saying its amazing.
  • Learn more about freshwater ecosystems, the creatures that depend on them, and how water helps defines life on Earth.
  • Klein talks about why and how her book came to be.
  • Push plants from their sixpacks, then plant them about 2 inches apart.
British Dictionary definitions for about

about

/əˈbaʊt/
preposition
1.
relating to; concerning; on the subject of
2.
near or close to (in space or time)
3.
carried on: I haven't any money about me
4.
on every side of; all the way around
5.
active in or engaged in: she is about her business
6.
about to
  1. on the point of; intending to: she was about to jump
  2. (with a negative) determined not to: nobody is about to miss it
adverb
7.
approximately; near in number, time, degree, etc: about 50 years old
8.
nearby
9.
here and there; from place to place; in no particular direction: walk about to keep warm
10.
all around; on every side
11.
in or to the opposite direction: he turned about and came back
12.
in rotation or revolution: turn and turn about
13.
used in informal phrases to indicate understatement: I've had just about enough of your insults, it's about time you stopped
14.
(archaic) in circumference; around
adjective
15.
(predicative) active; astir after sleep: up and about
16.
(predicative) in existence, current, or in circulation: there aren't many about nowadays
Word Origin
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
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Word Origin and History for about
adv.

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with about
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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