I. adverb Etymology: Middle English, from Old English abūtan, from 1a- + būtan outside — more at but Date: before 12th century 1. a. reasonably close to <
about a year ago
b. almost <
about starved
c. on the verge of — usually used with be and a following infinitive <
is about to join the army
— used with a negative to express intention or determination <
not about to quit
2. on all sides ; around 3. a. in rotation b. around the outside 4. here and there 5. in the vicinity ; near 6. in the opposite direction <
face about
the other way about
II. preposition Date: before 12th century 1. in a circle around ; on every side of ; around 2. a. in the immediate neighborhood of ; near b. on or near the person of 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
4. a. 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 III. adjective Date: 1815 1. moving from place to place; specifically being out of bed 2. around 2

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


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