Language: Old English
Origin: 'meeting, council, thing'


thing S1 W1


[countable] an idea, action, feeling, or fact that someone thinks, does, says, or talks about, or that happens:
People say things they don't mean when they are angry.
It was a horrible thing to happen.
I plan to do all the things I've been meaning to do for ages.
The first thing to do is to give them food and shelter.
That's a terrible thing to say.
do the right/decent/honourable etc thing
I kept wondering if I was doing the right thing.
this/that/what sort of thing
A priest has to arrange funerals, marriages, that sort of thing.
Getting more American ideas into British business would be a good thing.
'I did no such thing,' he protested.
I know a thing or two (=a lot) about dogs.
In a democracy, it is no bad thing to be able to compromise (=it is good, even though it may not seem good).


[countable] an object that you are talking about without saying its name, or whose name you do not know:
A red thing was caught in the branches.
I'll just switch this thing off.
There was a round metal thing on the path.
... and things (=and other similar things)
The shed is where we keep our tools and things.



[plural] life in general and the way it is affecting people:
By the end of 1942, things were starting to change.
Things could be worse.
As things turned out, we didn't have much time.
How are things with you, Sarah?
make things easy/difficult/hard
She would get angry quickly, which made things difficult for me.
We can't change the way things are.


[singular, uncountable] used as part of a negative statement to mean 'anything'
not a thing
I couldn't find a thing that I wanted to buy.
He took his glasses off and couldn't see a thing.
Don't worry about a thing.
There's no such thing as ghosts (=they do not exist).


[countable] used to talk to or about a person or animal, when you are describing what they are like or showing sympathy for them:
The baby is a nice little thing when he's not screaming.
She was terribly upset, poor thing.

make a comment

[countable usually singular] used to say something about a particular part of a situation, person etc
thing about
The thing about teaching is that it takes more time to prepare than most people realize.
the funny/strange/best etc thing
The funny thing is, I really enjoyed it, even though I hadn't expected to.
It's a good thing you saw her before she saw you.

the thing is

spoken used when you are going to explain something, give the reason for something, or give an opinion:
'It sounds like a good idea. Why don't you invest?' 'Well, the thing is, I can't afford to.'
the thing is that
The thing is that you can't always judge your own work.

the last thing somebody wants/expects/needs etc

XX something that someone does not want, expect etc at all:
The last thing I want is to upset him.
The last thing I should have done was let her move into my house.

last thing

British English at the end of a day, afternoon, evening etc:
She likes a hot bath last thing at night.

first thing

at the beginning of a day, morning, afternoon etc:
Jean liked to go for a swim first thing in the morning.



[plural] especially British English clothes and possessions [= stuff American English]
somebody's things
Jim began to unpack his things.
I want to sell some of my things, but they aren't worth much.



[plural] especially British English the tools, equipment, clothes etc that you need for a particular job, sport etc [= stuff American English]
somebody's writing/school/Christmas etc things
I left my swimming things at home.
the shed where he kept his gardening things

among other things

used when you are giving one fact, reason, effect etc but want to suggest that there are many others:
The substance is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and drugs, among other things.

for one thing

used to give one reason for something:
Well, for one thing, it's too big.
He's not that wonderful. He's bad-tempered for one thing.

be a thing of the past

to no longer exist or happen:
Before AIDS, many health care experts believed that large-scale infectious diseases were a thing of the past.

it's a good thing (that)

spoken used to say that it is lucky or good that something has happened:
It's a good thing we brought some food with us.

something is just one of those things

used to say that something unpleasant or unlucky cannot be prevented:
It wasn't really the driver's fault; it was just one of those things.

the thing about/with somebody/something

used to say what the problem with someone or something is:
The thing about talk shows is that you never know how they will turn out.

all (other) things being equal

used to say that something is true in general, but that other things may cause the situation to change:
All things being equal, smaller animals need smaller brains.

just the thing/the very thing

exactly the thing that you want or that is necessary:
A holiday is probably just the thing for you.

of all things

used to show that you are surprised or shocked by something that someone has done or said:
She gave up a promising career as a stockbroker to become a weaver, of all things.

do your own thing

informal to do something in the way that you like instead of copying other people or following strict rules:
I just want to live my own life and do my own thing.

it's a girl/football/music etc thing

informal used to say that something involves or affects a particular group of people only:
Computer games aren't just a guy thing.

all things considered

when you consider all the parts or events of a situation:
All things considered, we had surprisingly few injuries.

be all things to all men/people

to try to please or be useful to all of many different groups, often without succeeding:
In order to get votes, he tries to be all things to all men.

be onto a good thing

informal if you are onto a good thing, you are in a situation that is very helpful, comfortable, or profitable for you
think/know you are onto a good thing
Directors who take dividends instead of salary may think they are onto a good thing but could have problems on retirement.

make a big thing of/about/out of something

to make something seem more important than it really is:
You can apologise without making a big thing out of it.

the done thing

British English old-fashioned informal the way of behaving or doing something that is socially acceptable:
It is not the done thing for teachers to hit children.

it's one thing to ..., (it's) another thing to ...,

used to say that doing one thing is very different from doing another thing, especially where the second thing is more difficult, important, or serious:
It's one thing being able to run fast, but quite another to win a marathon.

what with one thing and another

British English spoken used to explain that you have had a lot of work, problems, or jobs that you had to do:
I've been so busy these last few days, what with one thing and another.

have a thing about somebody/something

informal to like or dislike someone or something very much, often without a good reason:
She's always had a thing about Peter.

one thing leads to another

used to explain how a series of events caused something to happen without giving any details:
One thing led to another and, before I knew it, I had invited her family to stay.

the (latest) thing

informal something that is popular or fashionable at the moment:
When Amelia bought a new car it had to be the latest thing.

(do/try) the...thing

American English spoken used to talk about an activity and everything that is involved with it:
Jody tried the college thing but finally dropped out.

there is only one thing for it

British English spoken used to say that there is only one action that you can take:
There's only one thing for it. We'll have to call the police.

one (damn/damned) thing after another

used to say that a lot of unpleasant or unlucky things keep happening to you

taking one thing with another

British English considering all the facts

do things to somebody

to have a strong effect on someone

➔ amount/come to the same thing

at same1 (4)

; ➔ the best thing since sliced bread

at slice2 (4)

; ➔ first things first

at first1 (7)

; ➔ living things

at living1 (1)

; ➔ be hearing things

at hear (10)

; ➔ be seeing things

at see1 (28)

Dictionary results for "thing"
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