about

Definitions

  • The marten about to attack the heron
    The marten about to attack the heron
  • WordNet 3.6
    • adj about on the move "up and about","the whole town was astir over the incident"
    • adv about (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct "lasted approximately an hour","in just about a minute","he's about 30 years old","I've had about all I can stand","we meet about once a month","some forty people came","weighs around a hundred pounds","roughly $3,000","holds 3 gallons, more or less","20 or so people were at the party"
    • adv about in the area or vicinity "a few spectators standing about","hanging around","waited around for the next flight"
    • adv about all around or on all sides "dirty clothes lying around (or about)","let's look about for help","There were trees growing all around","she looked around her"
    • adv about in or to a reversed position or direction "about face","suddenly she turned around"
    • adv about used of movement to or among many different places or in no particular direction "wandering about with no place to go","people were rushing about","news gets around (or about)","traveled around in Asia","he needs advice from someone who's been around","she sleeps around"
    • adv about (of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but "the job is (just) about done","the baby was almost asleep when the alarm sounded","we're almost finished","the car all but ran her down","he nearly fainted","talked for nigh onto 2 hours","the recording is well-nigh perfect","virtually all the parties signed the contract","I was near exhausted by the run","most everyone agrees"
    • adv about in rotation or succession "turn about is fair play"
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Additional illustrations & photos:

The boys poke about in a brook, while the girls relax on the bank The boys poke about in a brook, while the girls relax on the bank
JACK ASKS ABOUT THE CASTLE JACK ASKS ABOUT THE CASTLE
Going about thirty, are we Going about thirty, are we
Not one word did I hear about the Goverment that wuz in partnership with that man Not one word did I hear about the Goverment that wuz in partnership with that man
Baking bread in an outdoor baking oven about 1650. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.) Baking bread in an outdoor baking oven about 1650. (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)
Harvesting tobacco at Jamestown, about 1650. (Painting by Sidney E. King.) Harvesting tobacco at Jamestown, about 1650. (Painting by Sidney E. King.)
LOWELL MACHINE SHOP About 1860 LOWELL MACHINE SHOP About 1860
ABOUT SIX MILES TO THE SOUTH IS BETHLEHEM ABOUT SIX MILES TO THE SOUTH IS BETHLEHEM

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: It would take about fourteen and half million notes of currency to build a mile high stack
    • About Around; all round; on every side of. "Look about you.""Bind them about thy neck."
    • About Concerning; with regard to; on account of; touching. "To treat about thy ransom.""She must have her way about Sarah."
    • About Here and there; around; in one place and another. "Wandering about from house to house."
    • About In circuit; circularly; by a circuitous way; around the outside; as, a mile about, and a third of a mile across.
    • About In concern with; engaged in; intent on. "I must be about my Father's business."
    • About In the immediate neighborhood of; in contiguity or proximity to; near, as to place; by or on (one's person). "Have you much money about you?"
    • About Near; not far from; -- determining approximately time, size, quantity. "To-morrow, about this time.""About my stature.""He went out about the third hour."
    • About Nearly; approximately; with close correspondence, in quality, manner, degree, etc.; as, about as cold; about as high; -- also of quantity, number, time. "There fell . . . about three thousand men."
    • About On all sides; around. "'Tis time to look about .""Round he throws his baleful eyes."
    • About On the point or verge of; going; in act of. "Paul was now about to open his mouth."
    • About Over or upon different parts of; through or over in various directions; here and there in; to and fro in; throughout. "Lampoons . . . were handed about the coffeehouses.""Roving still about the world."
    • About To a reserved position; half round; in the opposite direction; on the opposite tack; as, to face about; to turn one's self about.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: The external tank on space shuttles is not painted. It is the only part of the shuttle that is lost after launch, so it is not necessary to worry about metal corrosion.
    • about Around; in circuit; circularly; round and round; on every side; in every direction; all around.
    • about Circuitously; in a roundabout course.
    • about Hither and thither; to and fro; up and down; here and there.
    • about Near in time, number, quantity, quality, or degree; nearly; approximately; almost.
    • about [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.]
    • about In readiness; intending; going: after the verb to be.
    • about At work; astir; begin in earnest: used with the force of an imperative.
    • about Nautical, to take a different direction, as a vessel in tacking.
    • about On the outside or outer surface of; surrounding; around; all around.
    • about Near to in place; close to; at: as, about the door. See the adv., 4.
    • about Over or upon different parts; here and there; backward and forward; in various directions.
    • about Near or on one's person; with; at hand.
    • about In relation to; respecting; in regard to; on account of.
    • about Concerned in; engaged in: as, what is he about?
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The aorta, which is largest artery located in the body, is about the diameter of a garden hose
    • prep About a-bowt′ round on the outside: around: here and there in: near to: concerning: engaged in
    • adv About around: nearly: here and there
    • ***

Quotations

  • Clark Moustakas
    Clark Moustakas
    “Accept everything about yourself -- I mean everything, You are you and that is the beginning and the end -- no apologies, no regrets.”
  • Eugene Field
    Eugene Field
    “Mr. Clarke played the King all evening as though under constant fear that someone else was about to play the Ace.”
  • Daniel Day Lewis
    Daniel Day Lewis
    “The thing about performance, even if it's only an illusion, is that it is a celebration of the fact that we do contain within ourselves infinite possibilities.”
  • Orson Welles
    Orson%20Welles
    “Every actor in his heart believes everything bad that's printed about him.”
  • Leo Aikman
    Leo Aikman
    “You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him.”
  • Winston Churchill
    Winston%20Churchill
    “I never worry about action, but only inaction.”

Idioms

About as useful as a chocolate teapot - Someone or something that is of no practical use is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
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About face - If someone changes their mind completely, this is an about face. It can be used when companies, governments, etc, change their position on an issue.
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Beat about the bush - If someone doesn't say clearly what they mean and try to make it hard to understand, they are beating about (around) the bush.
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Make no bones about it - If somebody make no bones about a scandal in their past, they are open and honest about it and show no shame or embarrassment.
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Much ado about nothing - If there's a lot of fuss about something trivial, there's much ado about nothing.
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No two ways about it - If there are no two ways about something, there is no other possible interpretation.
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Not know beans about - (USA) If someone doesn't know beans about something, they know nothing about it.
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Nothing to crow about - If something's nothing to crow about, it's not particularly good or special.
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Nothing to write home about - Something that is not special or good is nothing to write home about.
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Out and about - If someone is out and about, they have left their home and are getting things done that they need to do.
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Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
OE. aboute, abouten, abuten,; AS. ābutan, onbutan,; on, + butan, which is from be, by + utan, outward, from ut, out. See But Out

Usage

In literature:

Haven't you read about the great loves?
"Blow The Man Down" by Holman Day
Robert began to ask questions about the book, about the pictures contained in it of foreign life and foreign universities.
"Robert Elsmere" by Mrs. Humphry Ward
They thought about me and wrote and told me about it.
"Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves, Arkansas Narratives, Part 4" by Work Projects Administration
Then he went out into the forest, wandered about till nightfall, and slept in the hollow of a tree.
"The Goose Man" by Jacob Wassermann
And it's not Christian to cherish black thoughts about them, or about Bolitho either.
"The Day of Judgment" by Joseph Hocking
All of these old stories about the creation of things and about the gods and super-human heroes are called myths.
"Children's Literature" by Charles Madison Curry
Miss Spooner is in trouble about her tenant, who won't pay the rent, and she had to tell me all about it.
"Ralph the Heir" by Anthony Trollope
Tell us something about these swans.
"Popular Adventure Tales" by Mayne Reid
For the poems, she warned her fairly, were all about God; and nowadays people didn't care about God.
"The Creators" by May Sinclair
Their light draught of water is about 4 feet, and when loaded about 9 feet.
"The Sailor's Word-Book" by William Henry Smyth
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In poetry:

About the dawn,
What can I say?
But parting
At night is far more
Painful.
"About the dawn" by Ki no Tsurayuki
What's that, Central?
You say you don't care
Nothing about my
Private affair?
"Madam And The Phone Bill" by Langston Hughes
In little games
My hand had slipped her mantle,
I am not sure
About her skirts.
"An Escape" by Edward Powys Mathers
Pink was the shell within,
Silver without;
Sounds of the great sea
Wander'd about.
"Minnie and Winnie" by Alfred Lord Tennyson
I'm mad about music,
As mad as can be;
There's no one much madder
On music than me.
"Mad About Music" by Cicely Fox Smith
The plants and flowers
I raised about my hut
I now surrender
To the will
Of the wind
"The Plants And Flowers" by Taigu Ryokan

In news:

Though money to cover the difference had been found in the city budget, councillors expressed concerns about the increase and about the value of land the bridge would encroach upon.
"In my conversations at least one of my counterparts said to me, 'Well, don't worry about it, you should see what we say about you,'" Clinton said in a press conference today.
Here are the candidate's answers about questions about issues facing the county.
It's very seldom someone talks about the quality and amount of cow dung, but in one southern Wisconsin city that's all they've been talking about lately.
There may be nothing new about recycling crayons (after all, my mom was doing it in the 50's), but there's something about molding something old into a new version of itself that's so uniquely now.
If you're in a room of 100 people, odds are likely about 40 think God created humans about 10,000 years ago, part of a philosophy called creationism , according to a Gallup poll reported Friday (Dec 17).
You hear about suggestions on hot holiday gifts to give to the people in our lives, but how about some of the "creatures" who also make us happy.
Our hosts cared almost as much about hospitality as they did about nature preservation.
Every Tuesday afternoon a group of about 16 come into Bud's Place in rural Princeton and take up four small tables along the edge of the dining room and play cribbage for about two hours.
The Supreme Court of Canada is set to deliver a landmark ruling about whether Canadians living with any level of HIV have to tell their sexual partners about their diagnosis.
"I wanted to talk about animal rights without going through some convoluted justifications about using animal products".
About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours' resting and rising.
To learn more about the diseases they may have suffered from, to sort out just which Medici were murdered, and also to satisfy curiosity about the lives of the rich and famous and dead.
I've always read about Jimi's grandmother being Cherokee, but this was the first I read about him being Mexican.
She's made it clear her business, "The Snuggery," is not about sex, but about relaxation and physical comfort.
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In science:

In section 2 we gather, to make the paper selfcontent, some preliminary information about gradations of Kac-Moody algebra and about its Heisenberg subalgebras.
Solutions to WDVV from generalized Drinfeld-Sokolov hierarchies
The final section of their paper uses this principle to prove results about characteristic polynomials of random matrices using known results about random polynomials. A useful reference on the distribution of degrees of random polynomials over finite fields is [ArBarT].
Random matrix theory over finite fields: a survey
The eight galaxy peaks occupy a total velocity path of about 4800km/s between 0 < z ≤ 1.3 (assuming 600km/s per peak) or about 2% of the total velocity path, so the random binomial probability of finding two or more out of 4 absorption systems in any of the peaks is about 0.2%.
QSOs and Absorption Line Systems Surrounding the Hubble Deep Field
Finally, we pose a number of questions that seem important to ask about this theory, and about the relationship of clone cohomology and comonadic cohomology.
Abelian extensions of algebras in congruence-modular varieties
Many questions remain to be answered about this new cohomology theory, and about its relationship to previously-studied theories of cohomology of algebras.
Abelian extensions of algebras in congruence-modular varieties
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