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[thing] /θɪŋ/
a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.
some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described:
The stick had a brass thing on it.
anything that is or may become an object of thought:
things of the spirit.
things, matters; affairs:
Things are going well now.
a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs:
It is a curious thing.
an action, deed, event, or performance:
to do great things; His death was a horrible thing.
a particular, respect, or detail:
perfect in all things.
aim; objective:
The thing is to reach this line with the ball.
an article of clothing:
I don't have a thing to wear.
  1. implements, utensils, or other articles for service:
    I'll wash the breakfast things.
  2. personal possessions or belongings:
    Pack your things and go!
a task; chore:
I've got a lot of things to do today.
a living being or creature:
His baby's a cute little thing.
a thought or statement:
I have just one thing to say to you.
Informal. a peculiar attitude or feeling, either positive or negative, toward something; mental quirk:
She has a thing about cats.
something signified or represented, as distinguished from a word, symbol, or idea representing it.
Law. anything that may be the subject of a property right.
new thing, Jazz. free jazz.
the thing.
  1. something that is correct or fashionable:
    That café is the thing now.
  2. that which is expedient or necessary:
    The thing to do is to tell them the truth.
do / find one's own thing, Informal. to pursue a lifestyle that expresses one's self.
Also, do/find one's thing.
make a good thing of, Informal. to turn (a situation, experience, etc.) to one's own profit; benefit by:
She made a good thing of her spare-time hobbies.
not to get a thing out of,
  1. to be unable to obtain information or news from:
    The police couldn't get a thing out of him.
  2. to fail to appreciate, understand, or derive aesthetic pleasure from:
    My wife likes opera, but I don't get a thing out of it.
see / hear things, Informal. to have hallucinations.
before 900; Middle English; Old English: orig., meeting; see thing2


[thing, ting] /θɪŋ, tɪŋ/
(in Scandinavian countries) a public meeting or assembly, especially a legislative assembly or a court of law.
Also, ting.
Compare thingstead.
1830-40; < Old Norse: assembly; cognate with thing1, Dutch ding, German Ding thing, orig., meeting; akin to Gothic theihs time Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for thing
  • Then an idea dawned on us-let's walk the whole darn thing from end to end.
  • It has celebrities and media outlets, two groups keen on declaring trends, scrambling to predict the next big thing.
  • Disruptive innovation first takes hold on the margins where the next best thing may be nothing at all.
  • The thing that fascinates me is the asymmetry of this process.
  • But it's a noble thing they're doing, and well worth your time.
  • Name one thing you wish your parents knew about you, but you can't bring yourself to tell them.
  • It is appalling how often reporters use the last, flippant thing you said.
  • Bear in mind that there's no such thing as a failed experiment-only data.
  • The beat-up thing is actually used for cutting fish.
  • One thing to do is think of what questions you would ask the others on the panel.
British Dictionary definitions for thing


an object, fact, affair, circumstance, or concept considered as being a separate entity
any inanimate object
an object or entity that cannot or need not be precisely named
(informal) a person or animal regarded as the object of pity, contempt, etc: you poor thing
an event or act
a thought or statement
(law) any object or right that may be the subject of property (as distinguished from a person)
a device, means, or instrument
(often pl) a possession, article of clothing, etc
(informal) the normal pattern of behaviour in a particular context: not interested in the marriage thing
(informal) a mental attitude, preoccupation or obsession (esp in the phrase have a thing about)
an activity or mode of behaviour satisfying to one's personality (esp in the phrase do one's (own) thing)
the done thing, acceptable or normal behaviour
the thing, the latest fashion
be on to a good thing, to be in a profitable situation or position
make a thing of, to make a fuss about; exaggerate the importance of
Word Origin
Old English thing assembly; related to Old Norse thing assembly, Old High German ding assembly


/θɪŋ; tɪŋ/
(often capital) a law court or public assembly in the Scandinavian countries Also ting
Word Origin
C19: from Old Norse thing assembly (the same word as thing1)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for thing

Old English þing "meeting, assembly," later "entity, being, matter" (subject of deliberation in an assembly), also "act, deed, event, material object, body, being," from Proto-Germanic *thengan "appointed time" (cf. Old Frisian thing "assembly, council, suit, matter, thing," Middle Dutch dinc "court-day, suit, plea, concern, affair, thing," Dutch ding "thing," Old High German ding "public assembly for judgment and business, lawsuit," German ding "affair, matter, thing," Old Norse þing "public assembly"). Some suggest an ultimate connection to PIE root *ten- "stretch," perhaps on notion of "stretch of time for a meeting or assembly."

For sense evolution, cf. French chose, Spanish cosa "thing," from Latin causa "judicial process, lawsuit, case;" Latin res "affair, thing," also "case at law, cause." Old sense is preserved in second element of hustings and in Icelandic Althing, the nation's general assembly.

Used colloquially since c.1600 to indicate things the speaker can't name at the moment, often with various meaningless suffixes, e.g. thingumbob (1751), thingamajig (1824). Southern U.S. pronunciation thang attested from 1937. The thing "what's stylish or fashionable" is recorded from 1762. Phrase do your thing "follow your particular predilection," though associated with hippie-speak of 1960s is attested from 1841.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for thing



One's particular predilection, skill, way of living or perceiving, etc: He ignored the world and stuck to his thing

Related Terms

the best thing since sliced bread, have a thing about, just one of those things, sure thing, a sure thing

[1841+; revived in the 1960s]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with thing
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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