Student or Learner
Here are some of the common examples of the usage of “run around” I have run recently. In my humble opinion there is a spirit of contradiction between the interpretations of the expression in question in sentences 2,3,4,5 and 6,7. By the same token I got the idea of the sentence 1 but I cannot account for usage of the key expression in the present case.
Would you share with me your high appreciated opinion?
1. A whitlow is running around the finger nail, but not affecting the bone.
run around = chase around
2. Tim hasn't been to a dance all year; with school work and his job, he hasn't time to run around.
3. Chuck and Jim chase around a lot together.
4. Ruth runs around with girls who like to go dancing
5. At college she began to run around with a very liberal group.
run around = to go to different places for company and pleasure; gad around
run around with = associate or consort with socially
6. I’m almost running around trying to get everything done on time
7. I spent all morning running around trying to find the things you needed.
run around = to be very busy doing lots of things
8. She caught him running around just once too often and finally sued for divorce.
run around = be sexually unfaithful
Thank you for your efforts.
I think you are mistaken with number 1. Sometimes "runs around" can just mean something goes all the way around another, for example, a fence can run around a house. The fence is not running! A whitlow is an infection, so the infection is all around the finger.
With the other phrases, you are correct that "run around" can mean "play around with" or "spend time with socially" or that it can mean to be very busy. It is usually clear from the context what the meaning is. A lot of expressions in English are like this, but I can't think of a good example right now. I am sure other languages can be the same.