In recent months I have on a number of occasions heard people use the word "around" when they mean "on the subject of."

E.g. "I can answer your questions around your investments."

I don't recall having heard this before 2021, but suddenly I've heard it repeatedly.

Has this been noted by people who pay attention to such things? Is it brand-new or have I been isolated?

  • 3
    This form of usage probably has become more common in recent years—but it has been in use for a long time. I suspect that in the instance you mention—"questions around X"—the wording arose out of the similar-sounding form "questions surrounding X." At any rate, I find examples such as "Charles Thomas, professor and director of the University of Florida's criminal justice program, says police and legal resources have been used inappropriately in trying to answer the questions around Kennedy's death" (from May 21, 1984) dating back decades.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 4:24
  • This Ngram of British usage 1900-2019 seems to show a recent surge, and if it were possible to exclude all the false positives - asking questions around the table/class/world/clock, questions around which/around 11.00 and others - it might be even more dramatic. I agree with Sven Yargs's suspicions about "questions surrounding X". FWIW I first heard it among primary school teachers in the late 1990's. I find it annoyingly vague. Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 5:44
  • 1
    I have on a number of occasions heard people use the word "around" when they mean "on the subject of." I think it is somewhat broader and means more "in the general area of", thus inviting questions that do not bear directly on the subject.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 9:19
  • This sounds like City talk or Wall Street. Jargony. Not regular. These finance people always seem to come up with expressions that make most of us shudder.
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


I believe the Wiktionary definition centered upon best covers your example:

I can answer your questions around your investments.

In fact, you might interpret it as broader than "on the subject of" in many cases, as Greybeard states in a comment. Note the 1897 date of the OED's first citation for this sense, in line with the Ngram in Old Brixtonian's comment.

around (prep.)

(Of abstract things) Centred upon; surrounding.

There has been a lot of controversy around the handling of personal information.Wiktionary

11. In reference or relation to; concerning, about.

1897 Punch 29 May 263/3 Essence of Parliament... Useful, but not precisely alluring, debate around Employers' Liability Bill.

2013 Church Times 20 Sept. 34/4 Her biblical reflections..are thought provoking, and will..act as a stimulus to further biblical enquiry around the themes of justice and hospitality. (OED)

Grant-making foundations have their own special rules around investments. W. Ginn; Valuing Nature: A Handbook for Impact Investing (2020)

Each page provided an opportunity for the more for the more in-depth research and information that the Working Group had reviewed around each topic to be profiled and made available to any group or coalition in the community wanting to champion action around that topic. R. Phillips and C. Wong (eds.); Handbook of Community Well-Being Research (2016)

While you are searching for literature around your question, consider also how you think you may want to go about answering that question (for example, through a survey, observation, or interview). Bruno Boynton; Crossfire in Professional Education (2014)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.