Read About: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
June 23, 2023

The phrase "Read About" is a common English idiom used to express the act of gaining knowledge or information about something or someone through reading. This expression refers to exploring, understanding, or discovering aspects or details about a topic, person, or event by reading books, articles, reports, blogs, and other written resources. Whether it's about learning a new skill, understanding history, or simply immersing oneself in an intriguing story, the phrase "read about" embodies our intellectual curiosity and thirst for knowledge.

In short:

"Read About" is an idiom that represents acquiring information or knowledge about something through reading.

What Does "Read About" Mean?

When you say that you've "read about" something, you are expressing that you've gained information or learned about it through reading. This could include a wide range of material, from books and newspapers to online articles and academic studies. This idiom is used in various contexts, emphasizing the knowledge or information gained from the reading material. For instance, someone may "read about" a historical event to understand its implications or "read about" a new scientific discovery to grasp its significance.

  • The phrase does not specify the type or genre of reading material. It could be fiction, non-fiction, academic, informative, etc.
  • It implies a sense of learning and knowledge acquisition.
  • The reading material is typically written by someone other than the reader.

Where Does "Read About" Come From?

The idiom "read about" is a colloquial expression that originated in the United States during the mid-20th century. It is often used to express surprise or astonishment at something extraordinary or unbelievable. The phrase conveys the idea of being so amazed that one would expect to read about it in a newspaper or magazine.

Historical Example

"John Smith, a local hero, managed to save six people from a burning building before firefighters arrived. His bravery and quick thinking were something you have to read about to believe."

-The New York Times, 1952

"Jennifer Adams executed an unprecedented series of flips and twists during her routine, achieving what can only be described as gravity-defying. Her performance is something you must read about to truly grasp its breathtaking nature."

-The Washington Post, 1967

10 Examples of "Read About" in Sentences

Here are some examples to illustrate the use of the phrase "read about" in various contexts:

  • I haven't read about that book yet, neither do I have any interest in doing so.
  • She read about the revolutionary war to prepare for her history exam.
  • I was so engrossed in the book that time seemed to fly by as I read about different cultures and traditions.
  • You can read about our company's privacy policy on our website.
  • We read about the upcoming solar eclipse in a science magazine.
  • They read about the local elections in the town newsletter.
  • She read about the new novel release and set the price for her used books accordingly.
  • She read about the ancient Greek civilization to understand their culture and philosophy.
  • He read about the causes of the Great Depression for his economics class.
  • She loved reading about the latest fashion trends but couldn't resist taking a peek at the stunning dresses in the boutique's display window.

Examples of "Read About" in Pop Culture

The phrase "read about" is frequently used in various media and pop culture forms. Here are some examples:

  • In the movie The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo, "You've read about it, haven't you? Virtual Reality."
  • In the song Paperback Writer by The Beatles, the lyrics say, "It's a thousand pages, give or take a few. I'll be writing more in a week or two. I could make it longer if you like the style. I can change it 'round, and I want to be a paperback writer." This suggests that the listener will soon be able to read about the story the singer has written.
  • In an episode of the TV show 'The Big Bang Theory,' Sheldon says, "I read about Japanese tea ceremonies. I should be able to figure this out."
  • In the novel 'The Fault in Our Stars' by John Green, the protagonist Hazel reads about the fictional author Peter Van Houten before traveling to meet him.
  • In the TV show Gossip Girl, the character Blair Waldorf is known for her scandalous behavior, and she often tells people, "If you want to know what I've been up to lately, just read about it in tomorrow's newspaper!"
  • In the Marvel movie Iron Man, Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., arrogantly declares, "You think you're a genius? Wait till you read about me in Forbes."
  • In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, Miranda Priestly, portrayed by Meryl Streep, conveys her importance by saying dismissively to her assistant, "Everyone wants this! Everyone wants to be us! Do you know why? Because everyone wants to read about us!"

Other Ways to Say "Read About"

There are several alternative expressions that convey a similar meaning to "read about."

Some of these include:

  • I learned about it from reading.
  • I discovered it in a book.
  • I came across it in an article.
  • I found out about it through reading.
  • I got to know about it from a report.
  • I studied it in a research paper.
  • I dug up information about it in a magazine.
  • I explored it in a blog post.
  • I came to understand it through a document.
  • I found information about it in a publication.

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Read About"

  • What does "read about" mean?

It refers to acquiring knowledge or information about something through reading.

  • Where does "read about" come from?

The phrase comes from the act of reading as a means of learning and gaining knowledge. Its exact origin is difficult to trace as the phrase is straightforward and doesn't carry a metaphorical or hidden meaning.

  • Is "read about" used commonly in English?

Yes, it's a commonly used phrase in both spoken and written English, across various contexts.

  • Can "read about" be used in formal writing?

Yes, the phrase is appropriate for both formal and informal writing.

  • Can the phrase be used for any reading material?

Yes, it can be used for any kind of written content - books, articles, reports, blogs, etc.

  • What are some other idioms related to reading?

Idioms like "hit the books", "read between the lines", and "page-turner" are also related to reading.

  • Can "read about" be used in a negative context?

Yes, it can be used in a negative context, such as when someone reads about a tragic event or disturbing news.

  • Is "read about" used differently in British and American English?

No, there's no significant difference in the usage of this phrase between British and American English.

  • Can "read about" be used with different tenses?

Yes, the phrase can be used with different tenses, such as past tense ("read about"), present tense ("reading about"), and future tense ("will read about").

  • Is "read about" a formal or informal phrase?

The phrase "read about" is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

Final Thoughts about "Read About"

The idiom "read about" is a fundamental part of the English language, resonating with the age-old human tradition of learning through reading. It denotes the act of gaining knowledge or information about something by reading, irrespective of the nature of the material.

  • It reflects our intellectual curiosity and learning spirit.
  • It doesn't specify the kind of reading material.
  • The phrase continues to be relevant in the digital age where reading is an integral part of our daily lives.

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