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- (idiomatic, with infinitive verb) Indicates something that will happen very soon; indicates action that is imminent.
- He's standing at the edge, and I think he's about to jump.
- She seemed about to say something.
- 1769, King James Bible, Oxford Standard text, Acts of the Apostles, xviii, 14
- And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you:
- 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
- I was about to say that I had known the Celebrity from the time he wore kilts. But I see I will have to amend that, because he was not a celebrity then, nor, indeed, did he achieve fame until some time after I left New York for the West.
- (as negative 'not about to', informal, originally US, Canada) Indicates that one has no intention of doing the stated thing at any time in the future.
- I'm not about to let the lockdown stop me from going to the beach every day.
- I'm not about to impose laws on people who disagree with them.
- (obsolete in affirmative) Indicates that one is preparing or planning to do the stated thing at some time in the future, not necessarily imminently. [Attested from around 1150 to 1350 until the late 18th century.]
- ^ Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “about to”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 7.