As far as I know "roundabout(s)" means an area around something or someone, a perimeter while "vicinity(ies)" means areas or blocks of areas close to somewhere or someone or something.

So do these two words have a common meaning and can they be used interchangeably?

  • The car was somewhere in the vicinity/roundabout.

How to correctly use roundabout instead of vicinity?

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    Not in the US, where a roundabout is a circular roadway, usually to avoid intersections. – user3169 Sep 21 '17 at 17:45
  • roundabout in the sense of "nearby" is an adjective, not a noun, so you can't say "in the roundabout". – stangdon Sep 21 '17 at 18:31
  • @stangdon And what about roundabouts? – SovereignSun Sep 22 '17 at 5:51
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    @SovereignSun - Generally, roundabouts is also an adjective, for example "Has he got a shelter roundabouts here?" I do see a few examples of people using "in these roundabouts" to mean "in this area", but it's not common. – stangdon Sep 22 '17 at 13:50

I have heard the phrases in these roundabouts, in those roundabouts (note the plural) used to mean "in this neighborhood or locality, in that neighborhood or locality".

Those phrases would be synonymous with "in this vicinity" and "in that vicinity".

Those phrases would also be synonymous with "hereabouts" and "thereabouts".

Vicinity is not "very formal". I'd have to disagree with @Mike Kozar on that point. It is neutral, and can be used in formal and informal contexts. I know many people with little formal education who would use the phrase "not in this vicinity" to mean "not around here" in casual conversation.

Is there a diner nearby that serves breakfast all day?
-- Not in this vicinity there isn't.

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    I've heard "roundabout here" -- but all of these sound like Southern US vernacular to me. – Andrew Sep 21 '17 at 20:20
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    I have heard them in southeastern Pennsylvania. Vernacular is all we speak around here. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 21 '17 at 20:23
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    Our tongue is influenced by Hiberno-English, just as theirs is down South. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 21 '17 at 22:01
  • hereabouts and thereabouts aren't any different from roundabouts and as much as I can understand they are used only in the plural form? – SovereignSun Sep 22 '17 at 5:50
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    I think hereabouts and thereabouts are not plurals but the vestiges of an adverbial genitive (compare afterwards) and in that regard they're different from roundabouts which is a plural nominal form in the examples I cited with demonstrative. I have not heard the plural vicinities used with singular meaning; I believe it is a normal plural: There was much damage from the storm in the vicinities of county X and county Y. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Sep 22 '17 at 10:48

Your definition for vicinity is correct. I would suggest two things to keep in mind when using it. First, vicinity is very formal, and often used in official reports, so it may seem unusual in casual conversation. Second, vicinity is not a specific distance, but refers to a region that is understood by the speaker and listener. "All police cars in the vicinity of 45th Street and Main please respond" would be understood to be several miles, while "There were two witnesses in the vicinity of the crime" would mean close enough to see what happened.

Your definition for roundabout is not typical. A native speaker would understand roundabout to mean indirect. "I knew she would be suspicious if I asked her about her date directly, so instead I took a roundabout approach and asked if she saw last night's game. She admitted she was busy, and complained about her disappointing date."

(Alternately, a roundabout can mean a traffic circle, a type of intersection where cars flow counterclockwise rather than crossing paths.)

Your use of roundabout to mean an area almost fits the first definition - if you took a roundabout path to a destination then you would travel through much of the surrounding area, but in a very imprecise way.

It sounds like you are trying to use "around about", which is often shortened by a rural dialect to sound like "roundabout". The phrase "around about" indicates something that is somewhat close, with a significant margin for error. Consider the following:

When will you pick me up?

I will pick you up at 7:30.

This means exactly 7:30, with no margin for error. The speaker is either very certain that they can arrive, or believes that they will be forgiven for being off by a few minutes.

I will pick you up about 7:30.

Here the speaker has explicitly said that they will arrive near to 7:30, rather than at 7:30 "on the dot".

I'll be there ... hmmm ...around about 7:30.

Here the speaker has taken the already imprecise "about 7:30" and added an additional word meaning the estimate is not precise. This phrasing is kind of rural, and indicates someone who is very casual and "laid-back".

If we take that usage and apply it to a region, as in your example, we can understand how someone might use it to mean "vicinity".

There's an awful lot of deer around about that lake.

In this case, the speaker is communicating that the deer aren't at the lake, but close enough for the lake to be a landmark. If someone were to head for the lake and wander around a bit, he would expect to see some deer.

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  • Note that "around" and "about" both can mean "approximately". To continue the example above, "I'll pick you up about 7:30" and "I'll pick you up around 7:30" both mean "approximately". So "around about" is using two words that mean "approximately", thus indicating that this is VERY approximate. – Jay Sep 21 '17 at 18:42
  • "The asteroid was detected in the vicinity of Mars" could mean within hundreds of thousands of miles. :-) – Jay Sep 21 '17 at 18:43

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