- implements, utensils, or other articles for service: I'll wash the breakfast things.
- personal possessions or belongings: Pack your things and go!
- something that is correct or fashionable: That café is the thing now.
- that which is expedient or necessary: The thing to do is to tell them the truth.
- to be unable to obtain information or news from: The police couldn't get a thing out of him.
- to fail to appreciate, understand, or derive aesthetic pleasure from: My wife likes opera, but I don't get a thing out of it.
Origin of thing1
Word Origin for thing
Word Origin 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.
In addition to the idiom beginning with thing
- thing or two
- things are looking up
- all the rage (thing)
- all things to all men
- amount to the same thing
- do one's thing
- first thing
- first things first
- for one (thing)
- get (a thing) going
- get into the swing of things
- greatest thing since sliced bread
- have a good thing going
- have a thing about
- just one of those things
- know all the answers (a thing or two)
- little knowledge is a dangerous thing
- near thing
- no such thing
- not know beans (the first thing)
- of all things
- other things being equal
- seeing things
- sure thing
- the latest (thing)
- the thing
- the thing is
- too much of a good thing
- very thing