\ 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

During the second half, as England’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was about to take a free kick, the television’s standby timer started counting down. NBC News, "Fans howl over taking down World Cup Twitter posts for copyright issues," 14 July 2018 All this was, at least some optimists hope, an implicit reassurance to NATO’s European partners that Mr Trump was not about to make a deal over their heads with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. The Economist, "The American president lambasts his allies," 12 July 2018 But things were about to get rocky at Carnegie’s Homestead Steel Works, right across the Monongahela River from Pittsburgh. Jonathan Schifman, Popular Mechanics, "The Entire History of Steel," 9 July 2018 Shannon said Bullock was about to pursue a master’s in business administration and was scheduled to start the online courses Tuesday. Teri Figueroa, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Motorcyclist killed in Saturday crash was Navy veteran," 5 July 2018 First responders from Howard, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties were called to the 6200 block of Washington Boulevard at about 9 p.m., officials said. Lauren Lumpkin, Howard County Times, "Burger King blaze draws firefighters from three counties," 5 July 2018 The idea to do this stemmed from the recent introduction of H-E-B Grand Champion charcoal briquettes that come with pieces of dried onion and garlic ($4.98 for about 7 pounds) infused into them. Chuck Blount, San Antonio Express-News, "Add a little more flavor to your grill with fragrant ingredients," 2 July 2018 After all, these types of teaching moments are what Summer League is all about. Jeff Mcdonald, San Antonio Express-News, "Summer school in session for Spurs rookie Walker," 10 July 2018 All of the international cooperation is to be commended, however watching movies on the islands under starry skies is what summer should be about. Ioannis Pappos, Town & Country, "Is This the World's Most Glamorous Place to Watch Movies?," 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

At Indianapolis in late May, something else was about to change. Chapel Fowler, charlotteobserver, "In 2008, Will Power didn’t have a ride. He’s now the first N.C.-based Indy 500 winner.," 12 July 2018 That's because the store owner and the partially blind man dressed in character both couldn't foresee what was about to happen. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "Florida man body slams partially blind man in a Minion costume in a ‘prank’ gone wrong," 11 July 2018 Who could believe that the world’s most powerful country was about to hand its presidency to a Russian dupe? Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Will Trump Be Meeting With His Counterpart — Or His Handler?," 8 July 2018 There is a part of you that might not be quite in the mood for what is about to happen. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 3 July 2018 Cousins Juan and Valentino from Cordoba were about to embark on a 20-hour journey by train and plane via Moscow, Rome, Madrid and Buenos Aires to go home. David Harding, chicagotribune.com, "Argentina fans disappointed but still hopeful after Croatia loss," 22 June 2018 By Huddy’s calculations, that imprecision was about to cost him an additional $600 on his annual tax bill. Dan Horn, Cincinnati.com, "Politics or bad break? How one man's tax bill became a headache for Auditor Dusty Rhodes," 18 June 2018 Mike Mitchell was about to retire after 50 years coaching football. Richard Obert, azcentral, "Wickenburg football hopes to strike gold again with long-time, out-of-state coach," 16 June 2018 Well deserved and about time! breaking barriers and making history in so many ways!!! Mitchell Peters, Billboard, "Rihanna Celebrates Victory of Barbados' First Female Prime Minister," 27 May 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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Statistics for about

Last Updated

1 Sep 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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