• synonyms


noun, plural things-in-them·selves [thingz-in-thuh m-selvz] /ˌθɪŋz ɪn ðəmˈsɛlvz/. Kantianism.
  1. reality as it is apart from experience; what remains to be postulated after space, time, and all the categories of the understanding are assigned to consciousness.Compare noumenon(def 3).
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Origin of thing-in-itself

1650–60; translation of German Ding an sich
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for thing-in-itself

Historical Examples

  • It was not the "thing-in-itself," it was only the refraction of it through our atmosphere.

    Creative Evolution

    Henri Bergson

  • The fountain and support of it is the will to live, or the thing-in-itself, which we are.

  • The thing-in-itself is the unknowable reality of the thing we know.

    The Problem of Truth

    H. Wildon Carr

  • The thing-in-itself either is or else it is not the reality of phenomena.

    The Problem of Truth

    H. Wildon Carr

  • What the reality is, is the problem of the thing-in-itself (to use the Kantian term).


    Thomas Whittaker

British Dictionary definitions for thing-in-itself


  1. (in the philosophy of Kant) an element of the noumenal rather than the phenomenal world, of which the senses give no knowledge but whose bare existence can be inferred from the nature of experience
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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

thing-in-itself in Culture


A notion in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. A thing-in-itself is an object as it would appear to us if we did not have to approach it under the conditions of space and time.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.