about

1 of 3

adverb

1
a
: 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
3
a
: 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

about

2 of 3

preposition

1
: in a circle around : on every side of : around
People gathered about him.
2
a
: 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 aboutT. S. Matthews
4
a
: 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.

about

3 of 3

adjective

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.

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
The home, officially recognized by the city for its national significance, underwent a renovation about a decade ago with the addition of a contemporary extension and subterranean garage. Lauren Beale, Forbes, 15 Feb. 2024 The rise in estrogen and progesterone levels happens during the luteal phase (second half of your menstrual cycle), which typically occurs after ovulation and about 14 days before menstruation. Sarah Bradley, Health, 15 Feb. 2024 By March 2022, Prism had moved to its current address, in a commercial neighborhood about a quarter of a mile south of Miracle Mile. David J. Neal, Miami Herald, 15 Feb. 2024 Four females and two males hatched successfully in September, about a month after the flight. Cathy Free, Washington Post, 15 Feb. 2024 The aerospace defense contractor earns about a quarter of its revenue from its F-35 production program, the report says. Nicole Lopez, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 This period was about a year and a half during which Billy, unbeknownst to nearly anyone, started to dip his toe into writing again. Melinda Newman, Billboard, 15 Feb. 2024 The strikes took place over about 30 minutes, and three of the sites struck were in Iraq and four were in Syria, said Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, director of the Joint Staff. Tara Copp, arkansasonline.com, 3 Feb. 2024 But Apple only sold about 4 million iPhones during that device’s first year on the market and now sells more than 200 million of them annually, so there is a history of what initially appears to be a niche product turning into something that becomes enmeshed in how people live and work. Michael Liedtke, Fortune, 3 Feb. 2024
Preposition
Wilson and Gaugh received a call about playing a benefit for Bad Brains frontman H.R., and Wilson suggested that Jakob join them for the show. Daniel Kohn, SPIN, 16 Feb. 2024 Just about none of them had any additional budget, resources, or practical guidance on what the business expected. Husein Sharaf, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 What does this say about our collective sense of identity? Knits for Spring: The season’s most covetable garments are trimmed with fringe, shot through with shine and gorgeously patterned. Hanya Yanagihara, New York Times, 16 Feb. 2024 Instead, reason protects people from believing something incorrect about God’s nature. Randy L. Friedman, The Conversation, 16 Feb. 2024 Its stock markets have been among the world’s worst recently due to worries about a sluggish economic recovery and troubles in the property sector. Stan Choe, Fortune, 16 Feb. 2024 The father-daughter duo went back and forth about the cocktails in an Instagram video featuring David sipping one of the low-alcohol beverages. Sophie Dodd, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2024 In fact, my mom has been wearing this style since the 1980s, and always brags about their unbeatable comfort and reliability. Alexandra Domrongchai, Travel + Leisure, 16 Feb. 2024 Kushner also issues a word of caution about any portable blender: don’t overheat it. Brittany Vanderbill, Better Homes & Gardens, 16 Feb. 2024
Adjective
The couple does not notice, but tragedy is about to overwhelm them. Antonio Monda, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Feb. 2024 Not only are many of them cash starved and hurting for cash flow, but their interest rates are about to triple or quadruple. Robert Barone, Forbes, 17 Feb. 2024 Prayers for the big guy here as Scott Pollard is about to undergo a heart transplant. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 17 Feb. 2024 Jason Kelce is about to make one Kansas City Chiefs fan very happy! Anna Lazarus Caplan, Peoplemag, 16 Feb. 2024 Sign up here to receive an email right as the chat is about to start. Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 16 Feb. 2024 The paper mill is gone now, the steel mill is about to close, and many of the oil refineries are shifting to renewable energy. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 The 48-year-old was about to climb into a Toyota Camry and chase a spot in the Daytona 500 lineup. Shane Connuck, Charlotte Observer, 16 Feb. 2024 With everyone’s eyes fixated on each exit to see who is going to walk in and several attendees unable to stay seated, the growing anticipation was confirmation something out of this world was about to take place. Kerane Marcellus, Essence, 14 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'about.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Adverb

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

Preposition

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

Adjective

Middle English, derivative of about about entry 1

First Known Use

Adverb

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

Preposition

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

Adjective

1745, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near about

Cite this Entry

“About.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/about. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

about

1 of 2 adverb
1
: on all sides : around
wander about
people standing about
2
a
: reasonably close to : approximately, nearly
about three years
about ready to go
b
: on the verge of
is about to go home
3
: in the opposite direction
face about

about

2 of 2 preposition
1
: on every side of : around
houses about the lake
2
b
: in the possession of
had no pencil about her
c
: in the control of
keeps her wits about her
3
: in the act or process of doing
do it well while you're about it
4
: having to do with : concerning
tell me about it
a book about birds
5
: over or in different parts of
traveled about the country

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