Definition of about in English:


Line breaks: about
Pronunciation: /əˈbaʊt


  • 2chiefly British Used to indicate movement within a particular area: she looked about the room
    More example sentences
    • He paused, looked about himself for a moment, and sighed.
    • I paused, gazing about the room, watching carefully for any sign of movement.
    • While some men can wander about a hardware store for an hour, I can kill 60 minutes or more in a kitchen supply place.
    around, round, throughout, over, through, all over, in all parts of, on every side of, encircling, surrounding; here and there, everywhere


Back to top  


be about to do something

Intend to do something, or be close to doing something, very soon: the ceremony was about to begin
More example sentences
  • They may be used to control symptoms in women who are close to the menopause for whom symptoms may soon be about to improve anyway.
  • The Government is about to close the door and stop all new referrals from receiving these drugs.
  • As the elevator doors were about to close, someone pushed the open button outside.
going to, ready to, all set to, preparing to, intending to, soon to; on the point of, on the verge of, on the brink of, within an ace of

be not about to do something

Be unwilling to do something: he is not about to step down after so long
More example sentences
  • The major telecoms companies and the raft of Internet companies suddenly found themselves faced with massive balance sheet deficits and fantasy profits that were not about to materialise.
  • They seemed content to sit back and invite Arsenal to come on to them, and the league leaders were not about to spurn the invitation.
  • People backed the president, because they wanted to back his patriotic effort, and they were not about to throw a wartime president out of office during a war.

be on about

see on.

know what one is about

informal Be sensible, self-possessed, and aware of how to deal with difficult situations: don’t go to the Congo without knowing what you’re about
More example sentences
  • That's the key, you need to know what you are about.
  • In time the truth will emerge but to win big contracts you have to know what you are about.
  • But, now you are here, may I ask if you know what you are about?


Old English onbūtan, from on 'in, on' + būtan 'outside of' (see but2).

More definitions of about

Definition of about in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day milord
Pronunciation: mɪˈlɔːd
used to address an English nobleman