1. a thing of any kind.
  1. in any degree; to any extent; in any way; at all: Does it taste anything like chocolate?
  1. anything but, in no degree or respect; not in the least: The plans were anything but definite.
  2. anything goes, any type of conduct, dress, speech, etc., is considered acceptable or valid or is likely to be encountered and tolerated: That resort is a place where anything goes!

Origin of anything

before 900; Middle English ani thing, eni thing, Old English ǣnig thing. See any, thing1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for anything but


  1. any object, event, action, etc, whateveranything might happen
  1. a thing of any kindhave you anything to declare?
  1. in any wayhe wasn't anything like his father
  2. anything but by no means; not in the leastshe was anything but happy
  3. like anything (intensifier; usually euphemistic)he ran like anything
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

Word Origin and History for anything but



late Old English aniþing, from any + thing. But Old English ænig þinga apparently also meant "somehow, anyhow" (glossing Latin quoquo modo).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with anything but

anything but

By no means, not at all, as in He is anything but ambitious for a promotion. William Wordsworth in his long poem, The Prelude (1805–1806), wrote: “Grief call it not, 'twas anything but that.”


In addition to the idioms beginning with anything

  • anything but
  • anything goes
  • anything like

also see:

  • can't do anything with
  • if anything
  • like anything
  • not anything like
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.