be about


  ( ə-bout′ )adv. 1. approximately ; closely :

The interview lasted about an hour.

Reading: be about

2. about :

The job is about done.

3. To a reversed put or commission :

Turn about and walk away slowly.

4. In no particular guidance :

wandering about with no place to go.

5. All around ; on every side :

Let’s look about for help.

6. In the sphere or vicinity ; near :

spoke to a few spectators standing about.

7. In succession ; one after another :

Turn about is fair play.

8. a. On the verge of doing something ; presently going to do something. Used with the infinitive :

The chorus is about to sing.

b. Usage Problem Used to show determination or intention in negative constructions with an infinitive :

I am not about to concede the point.

prep. 1. On all sides of ; surrounding :

I found an English garden all about me.

2. In the vicinity of ; around :

explored the rivers and streams about the estate.

3. Almost the same as ; close to ; near .4. a. In reference to ; relating to ; concerned with :

a book about snakes.

b. In the act or process of :

While you’re about it, please clean your room.

5. In the possession or congenital character of :

Keep your wits about you.

adj. 1. Moving hera and there ; astir :

The patient is up and about.

2. Being in tell or being :

Rumors are about concerning his resignation.

onbūtan : on, in; see on + būtan, outside; see [ Middle English, from Old English ; see ; see ud- in indo-european roots. ]

Usage Note: The preposition about is traditionally used to refer to the relation back between a narrative and its capable : a book about Cézanne; a movie about the Boston Massacre. For some time, this usage has been extended beyond narratives to refer to the relation between assorted kinds of nouns and the things they entail or make manifest : The party was mostly about showing off their new offices. You don’t understand what the women’s movement is about. This controversial custom credibly originates with the conversant saying all about, as in Let me tell you all about her. In our 2001 view, 62 percentage of the Usage Panel rejected about in the party case listed above, and 51 percentage rejected Their business is about matching people with the right technology. In 1988, 59 percentage rejected a like model. It is probably best to limit this function of about to more informal context. · When followed by an infinitive, about to means “ on the verge of, ” as in I’m about to go downtown. The construction not about to normally expresses intention or decision, as in We are not about to negotiate with terrorists. This custom was considered unacceptable in dinner dress write to a majority of the Usage Panel in 1988, but resistance has eroded with familiarity. amply 82 percentage accepted it in our 2001 review.

american Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved .

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