Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. Approximately; nearly: The interview lasted about an hour.
  • adv. Almost: The job is about done.
  • adv. To a reversed position or direction: Turn about and walk away slowly.
  • adv. In no particular direction: wandering about with no place to go.
  • adv. All around; on every side: Let's look about for help.
  • adv. In the area or vicinity; near: spoke to a few spectators standing about.
  • adv. In succession; one after another: Turn about is fair play.
  • adv. On the verge of; presently going to. Used with the infinitive: The chorus is about to sing.
  • adv. Usage Problem Used to show determination or intention in negative constructions with an infinitive: I am not about to concede the point.
  • prep. On all sides of; surrounding: I found an English garden all about me.
  • prep. In the vicinity of; around: explored the rivers and streams about the estate.
  • prep. Almost the same as; close to; near.
  • prep. In reference to; relating to; concerned with: a book about snakes.
  • prep. In the act or process of: While you're about it, please clean your room.
  • prep. In the possession or innate character of: Keep your wits about you.
  • adj. Moving here and there; astir: The patient is up and about.
  • adj. Being in evidence or existence: Rumors are about concerning his resignation.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Moving around; astir.
  • adj. In existence; being in evidence; apparent;
  • adj. Normally active and capable.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • prep. Around; all round; on every side of.
  • prep. In the immediate neighborhood of; in contiguity or proximity to; near, as to place; by or on (one's person).
  • prep. Over or upon different parts of; through or over in various directions; here and there in; to and fro in; throughout.
  • prep. Near; not far from; -- determining approximately time, size, quantity.
  • prep. In concern with; engaged in; intent on.
  • prep. On the point or verge of; going; in act of.
  • prep. Concerning; with regard to; on account of; touching.
  • adv. On all sides; around.
  • adv. In circuit; circularly; by a circuitous way; around the outside.
  • adv. Here and there; around; in one place and another.
  • adv. Nearly; approximately; with close correspondence, in quality, manner, degree, etc.; ; -- also of quantity, number, time.
  • adv. To a reserved position; half round; in the opposite direction; on the opposite tack

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Around; in circuit; circularly; round and round; on every side; in every direction; all around.
  • Circuitously; in a roundabout course.
  • Hither and thither; to and fro; up and down; here and there.
  • Near in time, number, quantity, quality, or degree; nearly; approximately; almost.
  • [In contracts made on the New York Stock Exchange, the term about means “not more than three days” when applied to time, and “not more than 10 per cent.” when used with reference to a number of shares.]
  • In readiness; intending; going: after the verb to be.
  • At work; astir; begin in earnest: used with the force of an imperative.
  • Nautical, to take a different direction, as a vessel in tacking.
  • On the outside or outer surface of; surrounding; around; all around.
  • Near to in place; close to; at: as, about the door. See the adv., 4.
  • Over or upon different parts; here and there; backward and forward; in various directions.
  • Near or on one's person; with; at hand.
  • In relation to; respecting; in regard to; on account of.
  • Concerned in; engaged in: as, what is he about?

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adv. used of movement to or among many different places or in no particular direction
  • adv. (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct
  • adv. in the area or vicinity
  • adj. on the move
  • adv. in rotation or succession
  • adv. all around or on all sides
  • adv. (of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but
  • adv. in or to a reversed position or direction

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English onbūtan : on, in; see on + būtan, outside; see ud- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English about (adverb). (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • trying to pick a fight? a+bout?

    November 25, 2013

  • What the hell was that all about?

    November 25, 2013

  • Dang. I missed it all.

    August 14, 2009

  • Whew. Returns to porch with lemonade and Ritz crackers.

    August 14, 2009

  • Oh.
    *calms barking dachshunds by tossing non-chocolate fufluns*

    August 13, 2009

  • Cf. admire. It's erich13.

    August 13, 2009

  • I think we have already punished him/her.

    August 13, 2009

  • All right. Who's the spammer?!
    *prepares the panzer division of dachshunds*

    August 13, 2009

  • We're under attag!

    August 13, 2009

  • Holy Tagging Madness, Batman.

    August 13, 2009

  • Tag aarrgghhness!

    August 13, 2009