\ə-ˈbau̇t \

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 infinitive is about to join the army used with a negative to express intention or determination not 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.

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Examples of about in a Sentence


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.


a poignant story about a young man who goes off to war about the hedge there was a picket fence
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The robber was described as a white man in his 50s or 60s who was about 5-foot-9 and slender. Chicago Tribune, chicagotribune.com, "Lincoln Square bank robbed," 14 July 2018 When the presenter was a woman, 15.28 percent of comments were about her as opposed to the talk, TED or other topic. Adrianne Jeffries, New York Times, "Women Making Science Videos on YouTube Face Hostile Comments," 13 July 2018 Meanwhile, the Isle Casino is about to shed more than 50 years of relics from parties past that have been accumulating at the old grandstand building. Anne Geggis, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Florida's last harness racing track revels in decades of memories," 12 July 2018 The new Fabric Discovery Center at the University of Massachusetts Lowell is about so much more than couture. Allison Hagan, BostonGlobe.com, "UMass Lowell fabric center aims to make smarter clothes," 12 July 2018 But his time there and growing up in St. Joseph shaped the life of college football coach who is about to begin the 27th season of a Hall of Fame career at Kansas State. Blair Kerkhoff, kansascity, "Bill Snyder remembers roots at dedication in his name," 12 July 2018 Just a jog or a jump can ignite knee pain for Sydney Meilstrup. Sydney, 14, who is about to enter ninth grade at Severna Park High School, has been diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disease — common in growing children — since last September. Reema Amin, baltimoresun.com, "Anne Arundel summer dance program conveys confidence as well as technique," 11 July 2018 As the gathering wrapped up and the clerics were about to disband, another suicide bomber struck near the site, killing seven people. Rahim Faiez, Fox News, "Peace in Afghanistan more elusive as Taliban shrug off talks," 11 July 2018 Now, rolled ice cream is about to make its Cincinnati debut. Mallorie Sullivan, Cincinnati.com, "Simply Rolled Ice Cream parlor is about ready to roll in Over-the-Rhine," 10 July 2018

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

Since the episode also shows that Kate is trying to beat the odds and get pregnant — knowing there's a 90% chance of failure — Harris's play may be a hint that miracles are about to happen. Eileen Reslen, Good Housekeeping, "The Important Things You Missed During the 'This Is Us' Season 3 Premiere," 26 Sep. 2018 Amazon Samples—a new-ish but not widely known about service that allows you to order a box of tiny, try-it-out treats as a Prime member—is making my sample collecting habits a little easier these days. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "Amazon's Little-Known Beauty Sample Shop Is the Best Discovery I Ever Made," 8 Aug. 2018 The day is about family time, Pirtle-Birgil-Holmon said. Samantha West, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Many camp out before lakefront fireworks every year. But it's not all about the fireworks.," 3 July 2018 There was a vivid gay energy that made this wild enclave of NOLA eccentrics seem like a glitter dam that was about to break. Kelsy Chauvin, Condé Nast Traveler, "What NOLA's 'Gay Mardi Gras' Taught Me About My Parents—and Myself," 13 June 2018 By then, the Berlin Wall had fallen and the Soviet Union was about to break apart. Fox News, "CIA's Haspel can tap undercover work in Russian operations," 19 May 2018 His last story for Outside was about heli-skiing in Iceland. Nick Paumgarten, Outside Online, "Nick Paumgarten on the Thrill of His First Daffy," 11 July 2018 Virtually everything Barack Obama or Michelle Obama do goes viral — safe to say, Netflix's numbers are about to go way, way up. Rebecca Farley, refinery29.com, "Rejoice In The Possibilities! Barack & Michelle Obama Signed Multi-Year Netflix Deal," 21 May 2018 There was enough time for everyone to understand what was about to happen, but not enough time for anyone to run away. Rachel Aviv, The New Yorker, "The Spy Who Came Home," 30 Apr. 2018

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.

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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

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Learn More about about

Statistics for about

Last Updated

27 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for about

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

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More Definitions for about


\ə-ˈbau̇t \

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

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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 clear from alleged fault or guilt

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