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Harold J. Smith
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English

Etymology

Old English onbūtan, from on + būtan (outside).

Pronunciation

Preposition

about

  1. Around; all round; outside or on every side of.
    Quotations
    • If thou beest not immortal look about you. - Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, II-iii
    • Bind them about thy neck. - Proverbs 3:3
  2. In the immediate neighborhood of; in contiguity or proximity to; near, as to place; by or on (one's person).
    Quotations
    • Have you much money about you? - Bulwer
  3. Over or upon different parts of; through or over in various directions; here and there in; to and fro in; throughout.
    Quotations
    • Lampoons ... were handed about the coffeehouses. - Macaulay
    • Roving still about the world. - Milton
  4. Near; not far from; -- determining approximately time, size, quantity.
    Quotations
    • To-morrow, about this time. - Exodus 9:18
    • She is about my height. - Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, IV-iv
    • He went out about the third hour. - Matthew 20:3
    Note: This use passes into the adverbial sense.
  5. In concern with; engaged in; intent on.
    Quotations
    • I must be about my Father's business. - Luke 2:49
  6. (Before a verbal noun or an infinitive): On the point or verge of; going; in act of.
    Quotations
    • Paul was now about to open his mouth. - Acts 18:14
  7. Concerning; with regard to; on account of; touching.
    Quotations
    • To treat about thy ransom. - Milton
    • She must have her way about Sarah. - Trollope

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

Adverb

about (not comparable)

Positive
about

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. On all sides; around.
    Quotations
    • 'Tis time to look about. - Shakespeare, King Lear, IV-vii
  2. In circuit; circularly; by a circuitous way; around the outside; as, a mile about, and a third of a mile across.
  3. Here and there; around; in one place and another.
    Quotations
    • Wandering about from house to house. - 1 Timothy 5:13
  4. Nearly; approximately; with close correspondence, in quality, manner, degree, etc.; as, about as cold; about as high; -- also of quantity, number, time.
    Quotations
    • There fell ... about three thousand men. - Exodus 22:28
  5. To a reserved position; half round; in the opposite direction; on the opposite tack; as, to face about; to turn one's self about.

Derived terms

Translations

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

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