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I am familiar with all the debates around/about this topic.

Are both ‘around’ and ‘about’ equally good in the above context? Do they both mean the same thing?

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  • 1
    Related question to which Robbie Goodwin's answer appears to be directly relevant.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 23 at 12:59
  • @AndrewLeach Another comment there says that OED’s validate using around in the sense of concerning.
    – Sasan
    Jul 23 at 13:31
  • So are you happy that since about and around both mean "concerning" that this question is a duplicate of that one?
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 23 at 13:36
  • 2
    To me a debate about a topic is more focused than a debate around a topic.
    – Peter
    Jul 23 at 13:43
  • 1
    Everyone seems to be forgetting debates over this topic.
    – Lambie
    Jul 23 at 16:11
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I would go with about — at least in more formal situations.

A search of the Corpus of Contemporary American English shows the frequency of debate around at 142 compared to debate about at 4356.

Google Books Ngram Viewer offers similar results.

Although the Oxford English Dictionary shows a few example usages for around in the sense of concerning (the first at 1897), it seems to me (and to this writer) that this usage has only relatively recently gained traction.

Lastly, I would have you look at debate the verb and then make your decision:

We debated about this topic. There was a debate about this topic.

We debated around this topic. There was a debate around this topic.

For precision’s sake, I would use around only where surrounding makes sense:

I am familiar with all the issues surrounding this topic.

I am familiar with all the issues around this topic.

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