Definition of about adverb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//əˈbaʊt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//əˈbaʊt//
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  1. 1  a little more or less than; a little before or after synonym approximately It costs about $10. They waited (for) about an hour. He arrived (at) about ten.
  2. 2  nearly; very close to I'm just about ready. This is about the best we can hope for.
  3. 3  (especially British English) in many directions; here and there The children were rushing about in the garden.
  4. 4  (especially British English) in no particular order; in various places Her books were lying about on the floor.
  5. 5(especially British English) doing nothing in particular People were standing about in the road.
  6. 6(especially British English) able to be found in a place There was nobody about. There's a lot of flu about. She’s somewhere about—I saw her a few minutes ago.
  7. 7(specialist or formal) facing the opposite direction He brought the ship about. Which Word?around / round / about Around and round can often be used with the same meaning in British English, though around is more formal:The earth goes round/​around the sun. They live round/​around the corner. We travelled round/​around India. She turned round/​around when I came in. In North American English only around can be used in these meanings. Around, round and about can also sometimes be used with the same meaning in British English:The kids were running around/​round/​about outside. I’ve been waiting around/​round/​about to see her all day. In North American English only around can be used in these meanings. About or around can be used in both British English and North American English to mean ‘approximately’:We left around/​about 8 o’clock.
  8. Word OriginOld English onbūtan, from on ‘in, on’ + būtan ‘outside of’ .Idioms
    1. 1  almost; very nearly I've met just about everyone. ‘Did you reach your sales target?’ ‘Just about.’
    2. 2  approximately She should be arriving just about now.
    1. 1able to go outside again after an illness
    2. 2travelling around a place We've been out and about talking to people all over the country.
    that’s about all, that’s about it
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    used to say that you have finished telling somebody about something and there is nothing to add ‘Anything else?’ ‘No, that's about it for now.’
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: about