\ 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 Thankfully, there are about 7 million more exciting ways to eat chicken. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "43 Easy Healthy Chicken Recipes for Simple Weeknight Dinners," 12 Feb. 2020 Limbaugh did all that, day in and day out, without any sense of monotony or boredom, but with almost adolescent energy and excitement about just talking to America each day. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Limbaugh: A Genius at Radio," 11 Feb. 2020 The episode seems like an unprecedented challenge to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, and is predictably being written about in such terms. Isabella Steger, Quartz, "China’s coronavirus might be the crisis Beijing can’t detain, spend, or censor away," 8 Feb. 2020 About 1 in 10 people will experience a kidney stone at some point during their lifetime, and men are about twice as likely as women. Nutrition Diva Monica Reinagel, Scientific American, "What to Eat to Prevent Kidney Stones," 7 Feb. 2020 While the couple and Euphoria co-stars just recently seemed to make their relationship public thanks to their recently PDA while out and about NYC, but now E! Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Zendaya and Jacob Elordi May Have Been Dating for Months," 6 Feb. 2020 Intel does have something to cheer about, at least in the short term. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "AMD's PC market share soars during the fourth quarter, thanks to Ryzen," 5 Feb. 2020 According to the 2011 Census, the population of Dehradun city was about 578,000 while the population of Dehradun district was about 1.69 million. Hridayesh Joshi, Quartz India, "An idyllic Indian city in the Himalayan foothills is crumbling under the weight of its “smart city” tag," 4 Feb. 2020 Lillard isn’t that different than a lot of great athletes born with the X-Factor George Plimpton once wrote about. oregonlive, "Canzano: Damian Lillard is on fire and still playing with a chip on his shoulder," 2 Feb. 2020 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 With Auburn mired in a 1-for-9 shooting slump and trailing by three with 6:49 to play, Okoro knocked down a 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire to tie the game. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "No. 17 Auburn holds off No. 13 Kentucky, secures 1st signature win of season," 2 Feb. 2020 Others worry authors may use them to spread misinformation—for example, about climate change or vaccine safety—knowing that reputable refereed journals would not accept it. Jeffrey Brainard, Science | AAAS, "Articles in ‘predatory journals’ receive few or no citations," 7 Jan. 2020 In just more than a month, Wall Street sentiments have made an about face on Apache's Suriname plans with the new joint venture and, now, the first promising results. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "Apache, Total announce first oil discovery offshore of Suriname," 7 Jan. 2020 But is there some danger in saying things are about loyalty to the Creator? Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, "Why the Editor of Christianity Today Decided to Rebuke Trump," 21 Dec. 2019 But Graham's about face on Biden and his connections to Ukraine comes as a bit of a surprise as the Republican has frequently gone to bat for his former Senate colleague. Emily Tillett, CBS News, "Lindsey Graham changes his tune on Joe Biden, urges State document release," 22 Nov. 2019 Which means that on one cold winter night in 2017, Shane was the perfect person to witness what was about to happen next. National Geographic, "Episode 6: The Aquarius Project," 19 Nov. 2019 Basically, Queen Elizabeth and her dresser can teach us all a thing or two about fashion. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth Does Her Own Makeup, Just Like Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton," 2 Nov. 2019 Engagement season officially starts next month, which means a new crop of couples are about to begin the daunting wedding planning process. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "When Your Friends Are Tired of Your Wedding Planning, Here’s Where to Turn for Advice," 10 Oct. 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

17 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“About.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/about?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=a&file=about001. Accessed 19 Feb. 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!