[ thing ]
See synonyms for: thingthings on

  1. a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.

  2. some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described: The stick had a brass thing on it.

  1. anything that is or may become an object of thought: things of the spirit.

  2. things, matters; affairs: Things are going well now.

  3. a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.

  4. an action, deed, event, or performance: to do great things; His death was a horrible thing.

  5. a particular, respect, or detail: perfect in all things.

  6. an aim; objective: The thing is to reach this line with the ball.

  7. an article of clothing: I don't have a thing to wear.

  8. things,

    • implements, utensils, or other articles for service: I'll wash the breakfast things.

    • personal possessions or belongings: Pack your things and go!

  9. a task; chore: I've got a lot of things to do today.

  10. a living being or creature: His baby's a cute little thing.

  11. a thought or statement: I have just one thing to say to you.

  12. Informal. a particular interest or talent: Sports is not my thing.

  13. Informal. a peculiar attitude or feeling, either positive or negative, toward something; mental quirk: She has a thing about cats.

  14. something signified or represented, as distinguished from a word, symbol, or idea representing it.

  15. a topic, behavior, or activity involving or limited to a specified group: It’s a girl thing, so you wouldn’t understand.

  16. Informal. something that people do (often used in expressions of mild disapproval or mockery): Since when did clapping at the end of a movie become a thing?

  17. Law. anything that may be the subject of a property right.

  18. new thing, Jazz. free jazz.

  19. the thing,

    • 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.

Idioms about thing

  1. do / find one's own thing, Informal. to pursue a lifestyle that expresses one's self.: Also do / find one's thing.

  2. 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.

  1. not to get a thing out of,

    • 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.

  2. see / hear things, Informal. to have hallucinations.

Origin of thing

First recorded before 900; Middle English; Old English: originally, “meeting”; see thing2

Words Nearby thing

Other definitions for thing (2 of 2)

[ thing, ting ]

  1. (in Scandinavian countries) a public meeting or assembly, especially a legislative assembly or a court of law.: Compare thingstead.

Origin of thing

First recorded in 1820–30; from Old Norse: “assembly, meeting”; cognate with thing1, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish ting, Dutch ding, German Ding “thing,” originally, “meeting”; akin to Gothic theihs “time” Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use thing in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for thing (1 of 2)


/ (θɪŋ) /

  1. an object, fact, affair, circumstance, or concept considered as being a separate entity

  2. any inanimate object

  1. an object or entity that cannot or need not be precisely named

  2. informal a person or animal regarded as the object of pity, contempt, etc: you poor thing

  3. an event or act

  4. a thought or statement

  5. law any object or right that may be the subject of property (as distinguished from a person)

  6. a device, means, or instrument

  7. (often plural) a possession, article of clothing, etc

  8. informal the normal pattern of behaviour in a particular context: not interested in the marriage thing

  9. informal a mental attitude, preoccupation or obsession (esp in the phrase have a thing about)

  10. an activity or mode of behaviour satisfying to one's personality (esp in the phrase do one's (own) thing)

  11. the done thing acceptable or normal behaviour

  12. the thing the latest fashion

  13. be on to a good thing to be in a profitable situation or position

  14. make a thing of to make a fuss about; exaggerate the importance of

Origin of thing

Old English thing assembly; related to Old Norse thing assembly, Old High German ding assembly

British Dictionary definitions for thing (2 of 2)


/ (θɪŋ, tɪŋ) /

  1. (often capital) a law court or public assembly in the Scandinavian countries: Also: ting

Origin of thing

C19: from Old Norse thing assembly (the same word as thing 1)

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with thing


In addition to the idiom beginning with thing

  • thing or two
  • things are looking up

also see:

  • 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

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.