about

The adverb about, when used with a quantity, means approximately or roughly. If a teenager wants to have a couple of friends over, his mom might ask about how many "a couple" is — in his mind it may be about 50.

The adverb about can also be used for things that are almost, or just on the verge of happening. If you're about to graduate from high school, you're just finishing up your senior year. About also means around or on all sides. If you don't like animals, going to the petting zoo is a bad idea. The animals will be all about you.

Primary Meanings of about

1.
adv
(of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct
2.
adv
all around or on all sides
3.
adv
in rotation or succession
4.
adv
in or to a reversed position or direction
5.
adj
on the move
Full Definitions of about
1

adv (of quantities) imprecise but fairly close to correct

“in just about a minute”
“he's about 30 years old”
“I've had about all I can stand”
“we meet about once a month”
Synonyms:
approximately, around, close to, just about, more or less, or so, roughly, some

adv (of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but

“the job is (just) about done”
Synonyms:
almost, most, near, nearly, nigh, virtually, well-nigh
2

adv all around or on all sides

“dirty clothes lying around (or about)”
“let's look about for help”
Synonyms:
around

adv in the area or vicinity

“a few spectators standing about
Synonyms:
around

adv used of movement to or among many different places or in no particular direction

“wandering about with no place to go”
“people were rushing about
“news gets around (or about)”
Synonyms:
around
3

adv in rotation or succession

“turn about is fair play”
4

adv in or to a reversed position or direction

about face”
Synonyms:
around
5

adj on the move

“up and about
Synonyms:
astir
active
characterized by energetic activity

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