Definition of about in English:



  • 1On the subject of; concerning.

    ‘I was thinking about you’
    ‘an article about yellow fever’
    ‘it's all about having fun’
    • ‘It's a good kids and adult cartoon book, all about the triumph of good over evil.’
    • ‘There is much more to say about this subject, but that has to wait for another time.’
    • ‘I'm not too concerned about the exam, just looking forwards to getting it over and done with.’
    • ‘Good biopics struggle to present a truth, if not the truth, about their subjects.’
    • ‘As far as Basques who are not too fussed about their food are concerned, using a recipe book is cheating.’
    • ‘However a spokesman for the firm declined to give any information about its intentions.’
    • ‘This is the only reason that should be regarded when talking about this subject.’
    • ‘He suggests that such evasiveness often occurs because of concerns about giving away the plot.’
    • ‘Today I would like to tell you a little more about what is involved and what I do.’
    • ‘What we will have to settle for, at best, is a frank debate about some of the subjects raised by Mind the Gap.’
    • ‘Yet this is not all - the nature and placing of these units can say a lot about your intentions.’
    • ‘Why write a scientific book about a subject best left to poets and songwriters?’
    • ‘It is really immaterial how much we are promised about the good intentions of the new owners.’
    • ‘In America, the book has chimed with concern about corruption in the Catholic Church.’
    • ‘This is a subject of modern concern about which classical Buddhist sources have little to say.’
    • ‘Even if you don't know about the subject matter, you can apply the generic skills to any business.’
    • ‘That letter set out at some length Mr Carroll's concerns about a number of subjects.’
    • ‘So impassioned am I about Croydon that I have put together a poetry book all about it.’
    • ‘I am mostly concerned about the amount of exhaust fumes we are being subjected to.’
    • ‘It quickly came in the form of a book on the subject, Girls Night In, or rather an article about the book.’
    regarding, concerning, with reference to, referring to, with regard to, with respect to, respecting, relating to, on, touching on, dealing with, relevant to, with relevance to, connected with, in connection with, on the subject of, in the matter of, apropos, re
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    1. 1.1So as to affect.
      ‘there's nothing we can do about it’
      • ‘But what caused the cancer in the first place, and what can we do about it?’
      • ‘The argument now is about how badly we will be affected and whether it is too late to do anything about it.’
      • ‘We now have a better understanding as to why the firm is not accelerating in a growing marketplace, and what it is doing about it.’
      • ‘Stephanie says that unless she did something about her weight, she would just carry on piling on the pounds.’
      • ‘The system is rubbish, but there's nothing I can do about that.’
  • 2Used to indicate movement within a particular area.

    ‘she looked about the room’
    • ‘They strolled about the gardens, enjoying the beautiful day.’
    • ‘I should like to walk about my city again without being subjected to foul-mouthed racist abuse.’
    • ‘I paused, gazing about the room, watching carefully for any sign of movement.’
    • ‘While some men can wander about a hardware store for an hour, I can kill 60 minutes or more in a kitchen supply place.’
    • ‘He paused, looked about himself for a moment, and sighed.’
    around, round, throughout, over, through, all over, in all parts of, on every side of, encircling, surrounding
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  • 3Used to express location in a particular place.

    ‘rugs strewn about the hall’
    ‘he produced a knife from somewhere about his person’
    • ‘Residents near the play area are being disturbed by noise, and beer cans have been left about the area.’
    around, in circulation, in existence, current, going on, prevailing, prevalent, widespread, pervasive, endemic, happening, in the air, abroad
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    1. 3.1Used to describe a quality apparent in a person.
      ‘there was a look about her that said everything’
      • ‘He was friendly, with a gentle way about him and the wisdom that came with age.’
      • ‘Seen from the air in the lemony light of dawn, the place has an almost mystical quality about it.’
      • ‘The French veteran has a grace about his movement which seems to mesmerise opponents.’
      • ‘The girl's eyes had a blank look about them.’
      • ‘There was a film noir quality about that piece of managerial advice, and it fitted the times.’


  • 1Used to indicate movement in an area.

    ‘men were floundering about’
    ‘finding my way about’
    • ‘What does swimming about and spontaneously singing bits of the Batman theme song mean?’
    • ‘You go in feet first - there's enough room to move about and then come out head first.’
    • ‘They emptied the pool of its water by splashing about and then threw toys and sand into it.’
    • ‘A small space was fenced off so that the lion could move about, unhindered.’
    • ‘The day was too warm and too nice for rushing about.’
    around, here and there, to and fro, back and forth, from place to place, hither and thither, in every direction, in all directions, abroad
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  • 2Used to express location in a particular place.

    ‘there was a lot of flu about’
    ‘a thief about in the hotel’
    • ‘The site was overgrown and there was refuse strewn about the area.’
    • ‘Couches, armchairs and tables were scattered about the place.’
    • ‘She had scars all about her body and face.’
    • ‘Houdini relied on great skill, low cunning, and keeping tiny metal picklocks concealed about his person.’
    • ‘She looked inside to find the contents scattered about and then heard noises upstairs.’
    • ‘I have friends scattered about Australia.’
    near, nearby, around, about the place, hereabouts, not far away, not far off, close by, in the vicinity, in the neighbourhood, at hand, within reach, on the doorstep
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  • 3(used with a number or quantity) approximately.

    ‘reduced by about 5 percent’
    ‘he's about 35’
    • ‘A lot of us got out and waited for the emergency services, who arrived within about ten minutes.’
    • ‘I read the graphic and then saw the film all within about a week of each other.’
    • ‘I get about five emails per day from them.’
    • ‘Plane Tree Grove is a residential area about a quarter of a mile from the airport.’
    • ‘I spent about twenty minutes reading the wrong manual until JoAnn tactfully pointed out the mistake.’
    • ‘Arab traders took Islam to the area in about the twelfth century, possibly even earlier.’
    • ‘They held up movements for about eight hours and the road was effectively closed.’
    approximately, roughly, around, round about, in the neighbourhood of, in the region of, in the area of, of the order of, something like
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  • about to do something

    • Intending to do something or close to doing something very soon.

      ‘the ceremony was about to begin’
      • ‘As the elevator doors were about to close, someone pushed the open button outside.’
      • ‘The Government is about to close the door and stop all new referrals from receiving these drugs.’
      • ‘Gavin is about to begin a music course at college and hopes to become a session musician when he graduates.’
      • ‘I had been about to close the door, but I stopped, afraid that the noise it would make would be disruptive.’
      • ‘They may be used to control symptoms in women who are close to the menopause for whom symptoms may soon be about to improve anyway.’
      • ‘We showed up at the barn right when they were about to begin milking the cows.’
      • ‘The first major battle over public sector pensions could be about to begin.’
      • ‘Nicol easily controlled the next two games, and seemed to be about to close out the match.’
      • ‘He leaps aboard and the most extraordinary adventure of his young life is about to begin.’
      • ‘The council is about to begin consultation with residents on the options for council tax.’
      going to, ready to, all set to, preparing to, intending to, soon to
      on the point of, on the verge of, on the brink of, within an ace of
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  • be not about to do something

    • Be unwilling to do something.

      ‘he is not about to step down after so long’
      • ‘Ireland were not about to ease off, and emphasised the point with Henderson's dramatic arrival in midfield.’
      • ‘The problem was that Standard Life, the former owners of the shopping centre, said they were not about to spend any money removing this blot on the townscape.’
      • ‘The major telecoms companies and the raft of Internet companies suddenly found themselves faced with massive balance sheet deficits and fantasy profits that were not about to materialise.’
      • ‘Mr Laurence Howard, spokesperson for the Erris Action Group explained to the Western People that the people of Erris were not about to be put off by the law.’
      • ‘I quickly left the midges behind but they were not about to give up and descending into Tarsaughaun, I could hear the hum at fifty yards.’
      • ‘They seemed content to sit back and invite Arsenal to come on to them, and the league leaders were not about to spurn the invitation.’
      • ‘More than 100 residents in Greenhithe were pushed too far and showed they were more than a force to be reckoned with and they were not about to be steam-rolled.’
      • ‘Skipton Girls' High School twins Louise and Charlotte Cobb were not about to let one outdo the other - both achieved five grade As at A-level.’
      • ‘Luckily however, her mother and neighbours were not about to give up on the notion and warned her that if she didn't enter, they'd do it for her!’
      • ‘People backed the president, because they wanted to back his patriotic effort, and they were not about to throw a wartime president out of office during a war.’
  • how about

    • 1Used to make a suggestion or offer.

      ‘how about a drink?’
      • ‘And if pubic opinion says otherwise, how about treating us as such and giving us free TV licences and bus passes?’
      • ‘There are bigger and better storage systems than you'll see here, and if you have them at work, how about offering me a job?’
      • ‘But before then how about a little chamber music - just sit back, relax and let the glorious sounds wash right over you.’
      • ‘Or how about a session with a chiropodist followed by a pedicure?’
      • ‘But how about a focus on something else that human beings have, the heart?’
      • ‘If there are problems as this man states how about offering solutions instead of criticism?’
      • ‘Or how about sampling some of Danny Krivit's original rare disco edits?’
      • ‘Everyone is always so busy these days, so how about having a chance to try a full range of skin care and make-up in the comfort of your own home.’
      • ‘If they want to make racing more exciting and slow speeds then how about these suggestions.’
      • ‘We do need whiners but how about also suggesting a better way to deliver the winners?’
    • 2Used when asking for information or an opinion on something.

      ‘how about your company?’
      • ‘Or how about editing and simplifying the entire physical universe?’
      • ‘Even if it's too late for this Christmas, how about a New Year resolution to do at least 20 minutes' exercise three times a week.’
      • ‘So if we can't really judge from evidence, how about ideology?’
      • ‘Or how about if two pantry cars had blown up simultaneously when two trains were passing each other?’
      • ‘And how about having tea with the artists you saw the night before onstage?’
      • ‘I have a couple of years to satisfy that goal, so how about something closer to home, and well, more exciting.’
      • ‘Or how about a risk-free investment scheme without any strings attached?’
      • ‘If high gas prices aren't enough to get you down, how about rising dairy prices?’
      • ‘And if media denizens bristle at that word, how about transparency and demystification?’
      • ‘If one set of masts may be safe, how about two or three?’
  • just about

    • informal Almost exactly; nearly.

      ‘he can do just about anything’
      • ‘He has a good understanding of rugby, and when he's on his game he can do just about anything.’
      • ‘It seems like some biotech companies will do just about anything to make a buck?’
      • ‘We watered them in, and we've been giving them a drink just about every day since.’
      • ‘There are links here to just about everything and anything to do with the periodic table.’
      • ‘The medium seems to serve as a way to say just about anything and have the message picked up by the media.’
      • ‘In the end I could stand it no more and even though it was just about time to go to bed, I went and washed my hair.’
      • ‘That obviously would be unacceptable to them, as it would be to just about anyone.’
      • ‘You can feast as never before; you can shop at all hours and you can buy just about anything.’
      • ‘Huntley was also a man who must have thought he could get away with just about anything.’
      • ‘The human mind is very flexible and will find ways to justify just about anything.’
      nearly, almost, practically, all but, virtually, as good as, more or less, close to, nigh on, to all intents and purposes, not far off
      not quite
      pretty much
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  • know what one is about

    • informal Be aware of the implications of one's actions or of a situation, and of how best to deal with them.

      • ‘In time the truth will emerge but to win big contracts you have to know what you are about.’
      • ‘But, now you are here, may I ask if you know what you are about?’
      • ‘He knew early on what he was about.’
      • ‘That's the key, you need to know what you are about.’
  • up and about

    • No longer in bed (after sleep or an illness)

      • ‘Styles was on the mend and anxious to be up and about.’
      • ‘By the time the sun had risen, Robert was already up and about.’
      • ‘At least now I'm up and about, whereas I'd still be recovering if I'd had a caesarean.’
      • ‘Quite what they were doing up and about at 8.40 am I don't know.’
      • ‘Suffering from a mild form of insomnia, I spend a lot of time up and about in the early hours before dawn.’
      • ‘It was too soon after the injury to be up and about.’
      • ‘If you are serious about photography, dawn is the time to be up and about.’
      • ‘I expected my mom to be up and about but I guess she went to sleep.’
      • ‘There's nothing I like better, if I'm up and about in the morning, than to bury my head in a newspaper.’
      • ‘She opened her door and, to her surprise, saw no one up and about.’
  • what about


Old English onbūtan, from on + būtan outside of.