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about - definition and synonyms


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90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



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adverb, preposition about pronunciation in American English /əˈbaʊt/
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About can be used in the following ways:
as a preposition (followed by a noun): He told me about your problem.
as an adverb (without a following noun): Stop rushing about.
followed by an infinitive with “to”: I was just about to explain.
  1. 1
    concerning a particular subject
    1. a.
      used for stating who or what you are discussing, considering, describing, forgetting, etc.
      Think about what I’ve told you.
      She kept saying horrible things about my mother.
      jokes about the president
      all about: They’d forgotten all about poor Harry.
    2. b.
      used for stating who or what your feelings and attitudes are directed toward
      I’m worried about Dad.
      There’s nothing to get excited about.
    3. c.
      spoken used for introducing a subject that you want to discuss
      About that money I owe you – I can pay you back next week.
      It’s about Jack – he’s been so depressed lately.
  2. 2
    not exactly a particular amount or number
    1. a.
      used for showing that you are guessing at an amount or number
      About 250 people were killed in the explosion.
      Ann must be about the same age as you.
    2. b.
      used for referring to a time that is not exact
      I woke up at about 3 a.m.
  3. 3
    used when you are making an extreme statement that you think is almost completely true or is probably true
    Pam’s about the only person that I can trust.
    On this continent, Redmond is about as far west as you can go.
    He’s offended just about everybody.
  4. 4
    used when referring to qualities that someone or something has
    One thing I like about Tony, he always says exactly what he thinks.
    There was something about her that made him uneasy.
  5. 5
    used for showing movement mainly British
    1. a.
      moving to many different parts or areas, or in different directions
      The girls were dancing about the room in high spirits.
      Abe was tired of wandering about on his own.
    2. b.
      literary moving so that you face in the opposite direction
      Diana turned about and marched out of the room.
  6. 6
    used for saying where someone/something is mainly British
    1. a.
      used for saying that things are in many different parts or areas, especially because they have been left there carelessly
      Don’t leave important papers lying about on your desk.
      There were articles of clothing scattered about the room.
    2. b.
      in or close to an area
      You shouldn’t have been spraying weedkiller while there were children about.
    3. c.
      literary surrounding or enclosing someone or something
      Rhonda wore a garland of flowers about her neck.
      The prophet had gathered about him a band of faithful followers.
  7. 7
    how someone is spending their time British
    1. a.
      spending time in a place and not leaving it or not doing much
      Dad was puttering about in the garden.
    2. b.
      wasting time and behaving in a stupid way
      Stop messing about. We’ve got a job to do.
  8. 8
    British mainly spoken used for saying that a particular type of person or thing exists or is available at this time
    There’s a lot of illness about.
  9. 9
    searching, looking, or trying to find someone/something
    1. a.
      British used for saying that someone looks in different places to find someone or something
      George was groping about in the dark, trying to find the light switch.
    2. b.
      mainly literary used for saying that someone looks in all directions to see who or what is there
      Looking about me, I could see no sign of the others.


See also


a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills

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