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about vs around

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WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2019
a•bout /əˈbaʊt/USA pronunciation   prep. 
  1. concerning;
    on the subject of:a novel about the Civil War.
  2. Compare on.
  3. connected or associated with:an air of mystery about him.
  4. near;
    close to;
    approximately:She's about my height.
  5. within the confines of:somewhere about the house.
  6. so as to be of use to: Keep your wits about you.
  7. here or there;
    in or on:wandered about the neighborhood.
  8. engaged in or occupied with: While you're about it, please get me a soda.
  9. having as a main concern or central purpose:Fame was what his career was about.

  1. nearly;
    almost: Dinner is about ready.
  2. nearby;
    not far off:My papers are somewhere about.
  3. in the opposite direction:She swung the car about.
  4. here and there:to move furniture about; papers strewn about.

adj. [ be + ~]
  1. moving around;
    astir:was up and about at dawn.
  2. in existence;
    prevalent:The flu is about.
  1. Idiomsbe about to, [+ verb] be ready or likely to do something:We're about to eat dinner.Compare be going to under go.
  2. Idioms not about to, not intending or likely to:not about to lend you money.

  • Idiomswhat about, what plans or ideas do you have concerning (the person or thing mentioned)?What about the money you hid away? (= What plans do you have for the money you hid away?)
  • Idiomshow about, (used to make an offer or suggestion):How about a cup of tea?
  • IdiomsIt's about time, the time has arrived to do (something):It's about time to leave.
    • Both on and about mean "concerning'';
      about is used when the information given is of a more general nature and not too technical: a romantic novel about the Civil War. On is used when the information is more particular, as by being scholarly or serious:an important article on the Civil War.

    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2019
    a•bout  (ə bout),USA pronunciation prep. 
    1. of;
      in regard to:instructions about the work; a book about the Civil War.
    2. connected or associated with:There was an air of mystery about him.
    3. near;
      close to:a man about my height; about six o'clock.
    4. in or somewhere near:He is about the house.
    5. on every side of;
      around:the railing about the excavation.
    6. on or near (one's person):They lost all they had about them.
    7. so as to be of use to:Keep your wits about you.
    8. on the verge or point of (usually fol. by an infinitive):about to leave.
    9. here or there;
      in or on:to wander about the old castle.
    10. concerned with;
      engaged in doing:Tell me what it's about. Bring me the other book while you're about it.

    1. near in time, number, degree, etc.;
      approximately:It's about five miles from here.
    2. nearly;
      almost:Dinner is about ready.
    3. nearby;
      not far off:He is somewhere about.
    4. on every side;
      in every direction;
      around:Look about and see if you can find it.
    5. halfway around;
      in the opposite direction:to turn a car about.
    6. from one place to another;
      in this place or that:to move furniture about; important papers strewn about.
    7. in rotation or succession;
      alternately:Turn about is fair play.
    8. in circumference:a wheel two inches about.
    9. [Naut.]
      • Naval Termsonto a new tack.
      • Naval Termsonto a new course.

    1. moving around;
      astir:He was up and about while the rest of us still slept.
    2. in existence;
      prevalent:Chicken pox is about.
    • bef. 900; Middle English aboute(n), Old English abūtan, onbūtan on the outside of (a- a-1 + būtan outside (see but1, but2), equivalent. to b(e) by + ūtan), cognate with Gothic utana, Old Norse, Old Saxon ūtan, Old Frisian ūta, Old High German ūzan(a) outside; see out; compare above, abaft for formation

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    about /əˈbaʊt/ prep
    1. relating to; concerning; on the subject of
    2. near or close to (in space or time)
    3. carried on: I haven't any money about me
    4. on every side of; all the way around
    5. active in or engaged in
    6. about toon the point of; intending to: she was about to jump
    7. (with a negative) determined not to: nobody is about to miss it
    1. approximately; near in number, time, degree, etc: about 50 years old
    2. nearby
    3. here and there; from place to place; in no particular direction: walk about to keep warm
    4. all around; on every side
    5. in or to the opposite direction
    6. in rotation or revolution: turn and turn about
    7. used in informal phrases to indicate understatement: I've had just about enough of your insults, it's about time you stopped
    8. archaic in circumference; around
    1. (predicative) active; astir after sleep: up and about
    2. (predicative) in existence, current, or in circulation: there aren't many about nowadays
    Etymology: Old English abūtan,onbūtan on the outside of, around, from on + būtan outside


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