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1. Literally, to throw, toss, or hurl something in multiple different directions or all around some place. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "about." A worker forgot to put the safety shield on the digging equipment, so it started casting about stones and dirt the moment it was turned on. The kids tore open their presents, casting bits of cardboard and wrapping paper about the room.
2. To turn or direct a look, gaze, attention, etc., in multiple different directions or all around some place. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "about." I cast my eyes about the auditorium, but I couldn't see my family anywhere in the audience. You could see from the nervous glances she was casting about that she was not comfortable in the situation whatsoever.
3. To aim something, such as criticism, accusation, distrust, etc., in a careless or flippant manner. A noun or pronoun can be used between "cast" and "about." Hold on, hold on. Let's see some evidence before you start casting about accusations like that.
4. To search for or seek something, especially by looking aimlessly or in many different places. Usually followed by "for." Although Pam has taken classes in a variety of disciplines during her three years at college, she's still casting about for a major. The director pulled out at the last minute, so we've been casting about for a replacement.
5. To plan or come up with something, especially in a hasty, haphazard, or aimless manner. Usually followed by "for." We cast about for a solution to the problem, but I knew that the project was beyond salvation.
cast about for (something)
1. To search for or seek something by looking randomly or in many places. (In fishing, "casting" is the act of throwing one's fishing line or net into the water.) Although Pam has taken classes in a variety of disciplines during her three years at college, she's still casting about for a major.
2. To create a plan or method for doing something. The boss wants us to cast about for a way to improve that floundering program.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
1. Also, cast around. Seek, make a search, as in We cast about for the necessary tools, but couldn't find them in the garage. [Late 1600s]
2. Devise means, contrive, as in They cast about for new ways to increase revenue. This usage was first recorded in 1867.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.