I have looked for the difference between these phrasal verbs in the Cambridge Dictionary, Collins, Merriam Webster, among others, and they all seem to indicate there is no difference between one and the other.

Would a native speaker use these phrasal verbs indistinctively? If not, in what situations is one preferred over the other?


1 Answer 1


Both of these expressions are used interchangeably and would be understood to have the same meaning. "Milling (or wandering, walking) around/about" both suggest casually moving within an area. In general use, neither suggest a particular route or method.

However, "around" can be used to suggest a broadly circular route following the outer perimeter of something. For example "I walked around the block" would be taken to mean someone walked a single route that took them around a block of buildings and they ended where they began. But, words like "milling" and "wandering" imply some degree of aimlessness, so used with those, this would have a different meaning. "Wandering around the block" sounds like someone just moving randomly within the area.

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