\ ə-ˈbau̇t How to pronounce about (audio) \

Definition of about

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a : reasonably close to about a year ago
b : almost about starved just about finished
c : on the verge of usually used with be and a following infinitiveis about to join the army used with a negative to express intention or determinationnot about to quit
2 : on all sides : around looked about for a place to park
3a : in rotation They go about in circles.
b : around the outside
4 : in many different directions : here and there walked about for hours
5 : in the vicinity : near He spoke to the people standing about.
6 : in the opposite direction face about the other way about

Definition of about (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : in a circle around : on every side of : around People gathered about him.
2a : in the immediate neighborhood of : near Fish are abundant about the reefs.
b : on or near the person of had a pleasing fragrance about her
c : in the makeup of a mature wisdom about him
d : at the command of has his wits about him
3 : engaged in … act as if they know what they're about— T. S. Matthews
4a : with regard to : concerning spoke about his past
b : concerned with
c : fundamentally concerned with or directed toward … poker is about money.— David Mamet
5 : over or in different parts of He traveled about the country.



Definition of about (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : moving from place to place specifically : being out of bed is up and about by 7 a.m.
2 : around sense 2 There is a scarcity of jobs about.

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of about in a Sentence

Adverb We're about ready to go. This one is about as bad as that one. That's about all I know at this point. It's about time to go. That's about all the time we have. We tried just about everything we could think of. Preposition a poignant story about a young man who goes off to war about the hedge there was a picket fence
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Hailee hasn't put out any lyrics or opened up about what the song will be about, but fans think the song's title pretty much confirms that the new track will be full of shade towards Hailee's ex, former One Direction member Niall Horan. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Fans Think Hailee Steinfeld Is Planning to Diss Her Ex Niall Horan in a New Song Called “Wrong Direction"," 31 Dec. 2019 The Over/Under for the Alamo Bowl is set at 54.5, which seems just about right given how well Utah’s defense has played this season. John Holler, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Alamo Bowl: Utah vs. Texas odds, picks and best bets," 31 Dec. 2019 Before your next meal at this sprawling, 52,000-square-foot Lakewood institution, read about why the food is secondary to, well, everything else. Beth Rankin, The Know, "The Know’s most popular arts, entertainment, outdoors and dining stories of 2019," 28 Dec. 2019 In all, only two Democrats, one of whom is about to quit the Party, voted against the first article of impeachment, charging abuse of power, and three voted against the second, charging obstruction of Congress. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "Trump’s Impeachment Defense in Washington and in Battle Creek," 19 Dec. 2019 Baker, who has since deceased, was outraged at what the company was about to do. Sarah Bowman, IndyStar, "113 tons of dead fish: Indiana's worst environmental disaster, 20 years later," 19 Dec. 2019 That’s what the movie is about, not having a monopoly with only a few people being part of the imaginative sphere. Rosy Cordero, EW.com, "The NeverEnding Story oral history: How 3 brave kids helped save the world by using their imaginations," 18 Dec. 2019 These days, mostly tourists mill about, sipping Wadadli beer and taking pictures. USA Today, "Slavery reparations stir contentious debate. Why Brown and other universities are trying to make things right," 17 Dec. 2019 Inside the building, a handful of squat cylindrical robots scuttle about, following an intricate and invisible pattern. Will Knight, Wired, "China's AI Unicorns Can Spot Faces. Now They Need New Tricks," 12 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Preposition At its heart, Mr Trump’s plan is based on a hunch about sanctions. The Economist, "Scrapping the Iran deal won’t do anyone any good," 12 May 2018 Chapman said, though the sheriff had concerns about events at the liquor store. Joshua Sharpe, ajc, "Ex-deputy charged with shooting teen at DeKalb liquor store," 11 May 2018 There is a whole mess of statistics that a person could drum up about the grip that domestic violence has on the United States. Jerel Ezell, The Root, "Speaking Out Against Domestic Violence on Black Women Is No Longer Taboo, but Doing Something About It Is," 10 May 2018 Gomez said two White Houses sources confirmed Sadler's comments about McCain. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Report: White House official mocked Sen. John McCain: 'He's dying anyway'," 10 May 2018 Despite this, there's still no consensus about the cause of ME, although a viral origin has been suspected. Megan Doherty, Chicago Reader, "ME myalgic encephalomyelitis chronic fatigue syndrome CFS Millions Missing Depaul University CDC," 10 May 2018 Even at age 10, Samantha Smith already knew important things about the world. Lorraine Boissoneault, Smithsonian, "The Surprising Story of the American Girl Who Broke Through the Iron Curtain," 10 May 2018 James Queally James Queally writes about crime and policing in Southern California. James Queally, latimes.com, "Woman who allegedly stole car with 11-month-old inside is arrested on kidnapping, theft charges," 10 May 2018 The family sued Chrysler and Michelin, the tire maker, and ultimately agreed to a confidential settlement — after ensuring the agreement allows them to speak freely about the crash. Justin Price, The Courier-Journal, "Child's death led family in a crusade for 15-passenger van safety," 10 May 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Whether or not Mr Modi hears Mr Birla’s plea, the contours of a massive industry critical to India’s development are about to be redrawn. The Economist, "Fault on the line A price war has undermined India’s big telecoms companies," 12 Dec. 2019 Their preparations and loyalty to the president are about to face the ultimate test. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Movie nights, baseball, phone calls: How Trump is boosting GOP unity in impeachment inquiry," 12 Nov. 2019 And now, according to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, likes are about to start disappearing from U.S. feeds. Rebecca Norris, Allure, "Instagram Like Counts May Soon Be a Thing of the Past, According to App's Latest Leaked Prototype," 9 Nov. 2019 Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images Widespread protests against income inequality throughout Chile are about to enter their second week. Johnny Simon, Quartz, "Photos: Chile’s defiant week of street protests," 24 Oct. 2019 European space scientists' most ambitious dreams are about to meet reality. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Fleets of flying telescopes and returning samples from Venus among Europe's space hopes," 24 Oct. 2019 Beyond that, though, the concert was about power and confidence and Dion’s otherworldly talent. Ross Raihala, Twin Cities, "Celine Dion didn’t break a sweat in spectacular Target Center concert, her first in 11 years," 1 Nov. 2019 And unlike Uber and Lyft, Waze doesn’t have any about drivers as contractors or employees. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "Waze sees carpooling as the new ride-hailing," 10 Oct. 2019 There are two kinds of men on this beach: the dead, and those about to die. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "What’s the Most Accurate D-Day Movie? Here’s What 3 Movies Got Right—and Wrong," 5 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'about.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of about


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1745, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for about


Middle English abuten, aboute, going back to Old English abūtan, abūton, from a- a- entry 1 + būtan "outside, without" — more at but entry 1


Middle English, going back to Old English abūtan, derivative of abūtan about entry 1


Middle English, derivative of about about entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about about

Time Traveler for about

Time Traveler

The first known use of about was before the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for about

Last Updated

6 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“About.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/about. Accessed 19 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for about


\ ə-ˈbau̇t How to pronounce about (audio) \

Kids Definition of about

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : almost, nearly about an hour ago
2 : on all sides : around Bees were swarming about.
3 : in the opposite direction The ship came about.
4 : on the verge of I was about to call you.

Kids Definition of about (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having to do with The story is about dogs.
2 : on every side of : around There are trees about the house.
3 : over or in different parts of He traveled about the country.
4 : near or not far from in time about the middle of the month

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on about

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for about

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with about

Spanish Central: Translation of about

Nglish: Translation of about for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of about for Arabic Speakers

Comments on about

What made you want to look up about? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!