c. 1300, "in circumference, in a circle, on every side," from phrase on round; see a- (1) + round (adj.). Rare before 1600. In sense of "here and there with no fixed direction" it is attested from 1776 in American English (British English prefers about). As a preposition, "on or along a circuit," late 14c.; "on all sides, encircling, about" 1660s; of time, from 1888. To have been around "gained worldly experience" is from 1927, U.S. colloquial; to get around to it is from 1864.