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about (adv., prep.)

中古英语 aboute, 源于古英语 abutan (adv. ,prep.), 更早的 onbutan “在外面的; 在周围的, 包围的; 在附近的, 近的; 左右的, 从一个地方到另一个地方的”, 也是“有旋转或旋转运动的”, 在古英语后期“在时间, 数量, 程度等方面近似;” 是 on (见 on; 也见 a- (1) )的复合或收缩. + be “由” (见 by) + utan “外面”, 来自 ut (见 out (adv.) ).

到14世纪, 它已经发展了“周围, 在一个循环的过程中, 圆和圆; 在每一个侧面, 以便包围; 在每一个方向;” 也“从事” (Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?) 的意义, 并逐渐它迫使旧英语 ymbe, ymbutan (从PIE根 *ambhi- “周围” )的意义“周围, 在附近的”.

从13世纪中叶起作“在事, 在与”. 从14世纪初作“在局部旋转, 以便朝向不同的方向”. 14世纪末为“近在咫尺, 就在身边” “在迂回的路线上”, 因此为“在移动中” (13世纪末), 在中古英语中为“即将做, 忙于准备”, 因此在 (to be) about to “在准备, 打算” 中用作将来分词. Abouts (14世纪末), 带副词属词, 仍见于 hereabouts, 等, 可能是北方方言形式.

bring about “导致或影响” 并 come about “发生” 是14世纪末的 About face 作为一个军事命令(简称 right about face) 最早见于1861年, 美国英语.

Origin and meaning of about

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Definitions of about from WordNet
1
about (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 / close to / just about / some / roughly / more or less / around / or so
about (adv.)
all around or on all sides;
let's look about for help
dirty clothes lying around (or about)
Synonyms: around
about (adv.)
in the area or vicinity;
a few spectators standing about
Synonyms: around
about (adv.)
used of movement to or among many different places or in no particular direction;
people were rushing about
news gets around (or about)
wandering about with no place to go
Synonyms: around
about (adv.)
in or to a reversed position or direction;
about face
Synonyms: around
about (adv.)
in rotation or succession;
turn about is fair play
about (adv.)
(of actions or states) slightly short of or not quite accomplished; all but;
the job is (just) about done
Synonyms: almost / most / nearly / near / nigh / virtually / well-nigh
2
about (adj.)
on the move;
up and about
Synonyms: astir
From wordnet.princeton.edu