Etymology: Middle English, from 1a- + 2round
Date: 14th century
a. in a circle or in circumference <the wheel goes around> <a tree five feet around> b. in, along, or through a circuit <the road goes around by the lake> 2. a. on all or various sides ; in every or any direction <papers lying around> <nothing for miles around> b. in close from all sides so as to surround <people crowded around> c. in or near one's present place or situation <wait around awhile> 3. a. here and there ; from one place to another <travels around on business> b. to a particular place <come around for dinner> c. — used with some verbs to indicate repeated or continued action <always joking around when he should be serious> <don't play around with your food> 4. a. in rotation or succession <another winter comes around> b. from beginning to end ; through <mild the year around> c. in order <the other way around> 5. in or to an opposite direction or position <turn around> 6. with some approach to exactness ; approximately <cost around $5> II. preposition Date: 14th century 1. a. on all sides of b. so as to encircle or enclose <seated around the table> c. so as to avoid or get past ; on or to another side of <find a way around their objections> <went around the lake> <around the corner> d. near <lives around Chicago> <around the turn of the century> 2. in all directions outward from <look around you> 3. here and there in or throughout <barnstorming around the country> 4. so as to have a center or basis in <a society organized around kinship ties> III. adjective Date: 1849 1. about 1 <has been up and around for two days> 2. being in existence, evidence, or circulation <the most intelligent of the artists around today — R. M. Coates>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.