Definition of about in English:



  • 1On the subject of; concerning.

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

    ‘she looked about the room’
    • ‘I should like to walk about my city again without being subjected to foul-mouthed racist abuse.’
    • ‘They strolled about the gardens, enjoying the beautiful day.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I paused, gazing about the room, watching carefully for any sign of movement.’
    around, round, throughout, over, through, all over, in all parts of, on every side of, encircling, surrounding
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  • 3British Used 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. 3.1 Used 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.’
      • ‘The French veteran has a grace about his movement which seems to mesmerise opponents.’
      • ‘The girl's eyes had a blank look about them.’
      • ‘Seen from the air in the lemony light of dawn, the place has an almost mystical quality about it.’
      • ‘There was a film noir quality about that piece of managerial advice, and it fitted the times.’


  • 1British Used to indicate movement in an area.

    ‘men were floundering about’
    ‘finding my way about’
    • ‘They emptied the pool of its water by splashing about and then threw toys and sand into it.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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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  • 2British Used to express location in a particular place.

    ‘there was a lot of flu about’
    ‘a thief about in the hotel’
    • ‘I have friends scattered about Australia.’
    • ‘She looked inside to find the contents scattered about and then heard noises upstairs.’
    • ‘She had scars all about her body and face.’
    • ‘The site was overgrown and there was refuse strewn about the area.’
    • ‘Couches, armchairs and tables were scattered about the place.’
    • ‘Houdini relied on great skill, low cunning, and keeping tiny metal picklocks concealed about his person.’
    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, around the corner, just around the corner
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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.’
    • ‘They held up movements for about eight hours and the road was effectively closed.’
    • ‘I read the graphic and then saw the film all within about a week of each other.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I get about five emails per day from them.’
    • ‘Arab traders took Islam to the area in about the twelfth century, possibly even earlier.’
    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’
      • ‘The Government is about to close the door and stop all new referrals from receiving these drugs.’
      • ‘He leaps aboard and the most extraordinary adventure of his young life is about to begin.’
      • ‘As the elevator doors were about to close, someone pushed the open button outside.’
      • ‘Nicol easily controlled the next two games, and seemed to be about to close out the match.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The first major battle over public sector pensions could be about to begin.’
      • ‘The council is about to begin consultation with residents on the options for council tax.’
      • ‘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.’
      going to, ready to, all set to, preparing to, intending to, soon to
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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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ireland were not about to ease off, and emphasised the point with Henderson's dramatic arrival in midfield.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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.

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

    • 1Used to make a suggestion or offer.

      ‘how about a drink?’
      • ‘Or how about a session with a chiropodist followed by a pedicure?’
      • ‘If there are problems as this man states how about offering solutions instead of criticism?’
      • ‘If they want to make racing more exciting and slow speeds then how about these suggestions.’
      • ‘And if pubic opinion says otherwise, how about treating us as such and giving us free TV licences and bus passes?’
      • ‘We do need whiners but how about also suggesting a better way to deliver the winners?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 how about a focus on something else that human beings have, the heart?’
      • ‘But before then how about a little chamber music - just sit back, relax and let the glorious sounds wash right over you.’
    • 2Used when asking for information or an opinion on something.

      ‘how about your company?’
      • ‘Or how about editing and simplifying the entire physical universe?’
      • ‘Or how about a risk-free investment scheme without any strings attached?’
      • ‘I have a couple of years to satisfy that goal, so how about something closer to home, and well, more exciting.’
      • ‘And if media denizens bristle at that word, how about transparency and demystification?’
      • ‘Or how about if two pantry cars had blown up simultaneously when two trains were passing each other?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And how about having tea with the artists you saw the night before onstage?’
      • ‘If high gas prices aren't enough to get you down, how about rising dairy prices?’
      • ‘So if we can't really judge from evidence, how about ideology?’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘It seems like some biotech companies will do just about anything to make a buck?’
      • ‘The medium seems to serve as a way to say just about anything and have the message picked up by the media.’
      • ‘Huntley was also a man who must have thought he could get away with just about anything.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He has a good understanding of rugby, and when he's on his game he can do just about anything.’
      • ‘There are links here to just about everything and anything to do with the periodic table.’
      • ‘The human mind is very flexible and will find ways to justify just about anything.’
      • ‘We watered them in, and we've been giving them a drink just about every day since.’
      • ‘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.’
      nearly, almost, practically, all but, virtually, as good as, more or less, close to, nigh on, to all intents and purposes, not far off
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  • up and about

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

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


Old English onbūtan, from on ‘in, on’ + būtan ‘outside of’ (see but).