- 1An object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to: look at that metal rail thing over there there are lots of things I’d like to buyMore example sentences
object, article, item, artefact, commodity; device, gadget, contrivance, instrument, utensil, tool, implement; entity, body• informal whatsit, what-d'you-call-it, what's-its-name, what's-it, whatchamacallit, thingummy, thingy, thingamabob, thingamajig, oojamaflip, oojah, gizmo
- Lia wished the thing he had given her would just vibrate; a feeling of unease rested in the pit of her stomach.
- My suitcase contains many things but one thing you can be sure of is that I've probably not got enough pants.
- The pink thing beside her is her G-string which she took out and decided not to wear back.
- 1.1 (things) Personal belongings or clothing: she began to unpack her thingsMore example sentencesSynonymsbelongings, possessions, stuff, property, worldly goods, goods, personal effects, effects, paraphernalia, impedimenta, bits and pieces, bits and bobs; luggage, baggage, bags, bags and baggage, chattels, movables, valuables; clothes, garments; Law goods and chattelsBritish • informal clobberSouth African • informal trek
- 1.3 [with negative] (a thing) Anything (used for emphasis): she couldn’t find a thing to wearMore example sentences
- They know exactly what they're doing and in that respect I don't have a thing to worry about.
- I'll let them know what you have planned for us tonight, so don't worry about a thing.
- She felt as if she could just get lost in his eyes forever and not ever have a thing to worry about.
- 1.5 [with postpositive adjective] (things) All that can be described in the specified way: his love for all things EnglishMore example sentences
- He seems to have developed a penchant for all things good, wholesome and American.
- O'Hagan did not always have such seething contempt for all things Caledonian.
- His fascination with all things Chopper also extends to the world wide web.
- 2.1 [with adjective] A living creature or plant: the sea is the primal source of all living things on earthMore example sentences
- I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth.
- The trees protected by this bill are among the oldest, tallest, and largest living things on earth.
- Now, obviously, the presence of living things on Earth runs counter to this rule.
- 2.2 [with adjective] Used to express one’s feelings of pity, affection, approval, or contempt for a person or animal: have a nice weekend in the country, you lucky thing! the lamb was a puny little thing
- 3An action, event, thought, or utterance: she said the first thing that came into her head the only thing I could do well was cookMore example sentences
activity; act, action, deed, undertaking, exploit, feat; task, job, chore, piece of businessnotion, idea, concept, conception; concern, matter, worry, preoccupationremark, statement, comment, utterance, observation, declaration, pronouncementincident, episode, event, happening, occurrence, eventuality, phenomenon
- There is one girl in my class who constantly says funny things which I wish I could remember later.
- Get out of the armchair, do things you enjoy and things you think will make a difference.
- You should thus try to convince your husband that such a thing is not socially acceptable.
- 3.1 (things) Circumstances or matters that are unspecified: things haven’t gone entirely to plan how are things with you?More example sentences
- The kiss of love is the kiss of life and no matter how badly things have been going, it's the kiss that heals.
- It seems like the lesson here is to let things slide, no matter how painful things get.
- I now realise that all is not lost, no matter how bad things get, all is never lost.
- 3.2An abstract entity, quality, or concept: mourning and depression are not the same thing they had one thing in common—they were men of actionMore example sentences
- It is not at all necessary, though, that such a concept or such a thing exist.
- A concept that has too many clothes may in the end be the same thing as a concept that has none.
- We realised how our hobby was the thing we had in common and the most important part of that was sharing.
- 3.3An example or type of something: the game is the latest thing in family funMore example sentences
- I've never been a fan of that sort of thing but with fashion being what it is these days I let her have it done.
- The bottom line is society hasn't opened up much to accept this kind of thing.
- The young girl appeared oblivious to what he was up to; Martin guessed she did this sort of thing quite often.
- 3.4 [with adjective or noun modifier] • informal A situation or activity of a specified type or quality: your being here is just a friendship thing, OK?More example sentences
- She was afraid because this modeling thing was a new situation so removed from her reality.
- I'm doing the premiere party thing tonight, so will have something to say about it tomorrow.
- The older son thing requires its own space, so the telling will be separate, if it happens.
- 4.1What is socially acceptable or fashionable: it wouldn’t be quite the thing to go to a royal garden party in welliesMore example sentences
- At the newcomer level, sketch shows seem quite the thing.
- Apparently it's quite the thing to drop out of society for months and take to the rivers and byways.
- Around the time of Michael and A Life Less Ordinary, angels were quite the thing.
- 6 (the thing) • informal Used to introduce or emphasize an important point: the thing is, I am going to sell this houseMore example sentences
fact of the matter, fact, point, issue, problem
- It was almost 20 years ago, and the thing was, it was introducing a revolutionary product.
- ‘But the thing was, of course, you got your revenge when it came to your turn,’ he says with relish.
- You know, the thing was, Australia was really held to ransom there, as far as I'm concerned.
be all things to all men (or people)
- Please everyone, typically by fitting in with their needs or expectations: a politician running scared of the electorate and trying to be all things to all peopleMore example sentences
- Of course, just as SAC cannot be all things to all people, the cultural strategy will not please everyone or meet all needs.
- Simply put, like the Toronto event, it is expected to be all things to all people.
- It was a superb attempt to be all things to all men that culminated in a result that made everyone happy.
- Be able to be interpreted or used differently by different people: multimedia is all things to all menMore example sentences
- You may not be able to be all things to all people, but when it comes to dairy packaging, the industry is sure trying.
- It is trying to be all things to all people, while selling upmarket food.
- ‘You're asking a piece of wood to be all things to all people,’ he says.
be on to a good thing
- • informal Have found a job or other situation that is pleasant, profitable, or easy: many directors who take dividends in lieu of salary think they are on to a good thingMore example sentences
- They took advantage of the new government's inexperience at the time and, knowing that it was their first project, knew they were on to a good thing and exploited the situation to the fullest.
- Standard Life Investments proved last week it knows when it is on to a good thing by launching a second European private equity fund which will undoubtedly be one of the largest and most significant launches by a Scottish house this year.
- He said: ‘I reckoned that there was enough demand to set up a specialist company, and when my wife also agreed, then I knew we were on to a good thing.’
be hearing (or seeing) things
- Imagine that one can hear (or see) something that is not in fact there: the first time I spotted a puffin I thought I was seeing thingsMore example sentences
- She is hearing things, imagining them, she knows she is.
- I was going to tell her she was hearing things and to go back to sleep when I heard the sound of breaking furniture below.
- Approaching the bridge, we thought we were seeing things!
a close (or near) thing
- A narrow avoidance of something unpleasant: we got him out, but it was a close thingMore example sentences
- It was a near miss as far as I was concerned, a close thing.
- It was a close thing for me too, but I was young, and have a healthy heart and I lasted the whole half-hour of assault.
- Theodosius also built a second set of walls around Constantinople (it had been a near thing with the Visigoths) and made Christianity the official religion of the Empire.
do one's own thing
- • informal Follow one’s own interests or inclinations regardless of others: they don’t seem to be a couple, they just seem to be two people who do their own thingMore example sentences
- It's always welcome to find a band that are not following the crowd and really doing their own thing.
- It's just a case of going out there and doing your own thing.
- ‘It was that teenage thing of doing your own thing as a student,’ Diana recalls.
do the —— thing
- • informal , chiefly North American Engage in the kind of behaviour typically associated with someone or something: a film in which he does the bad-guy thingMore example sentences
- While we're doing the media thing, might as well be time for a roundup.
- He got the crowd doing the waving arms thing.
- I don't do the tests thing very often these days.
do things to
- • informal Have a powerful emotional effect on: it just does things to me when we kissMore example sentences
- Inspiring, amazing, and proving that in an age where film, TV, novels and the internet dominate, a truly magical piece of theatre can still do things to your feelings and emotions that no other media can.
- In other words, pop is conceived of as an aesthetic object which is contemplated and ‘enjoyed’ by a transcendent subject, not as something which has effects on a body, which does things to you.
- Apologies to my Portugese and Brazilian readers for confusing your beautiful language with the other one - it was the chocolate you know - it does things to my brain.
for one thing
- Used to introduce one of two or more possible reasons for something, the remainder of which may or may not be stated: Why hadn’t he arranged to see her at the house? For one thing, it would have been warmerMore example sentences
- Class, for one thing, appears to have changed radically while the Queen remains.
- Well, for one thing, the cast of characters apparently has spread out all over the country.
- Well, for one thing, writing a shocking story has been, historically, one way to bring yourself to public attention.
have a thing about
- • informal Have an obsessive interest in or dislike of: she had a thing about men who wore glassesMore example sentences
phobia, fear, horror, terror; dislike, aversion, hatred, detestation, loathing; obsession, fixation; complex, neurosis• informal hang-up, bee in one's bonnetpenchant for, preference for, taste for, inclination for, partiality for, predilection for, soft spot for, weakness for, fancy for, fondness for, liking for, love for, passion for; fetish, obsession, fixation
- I have a thing about sumptuously comfortable beds.
- And, perhaps as a result, I've always had a thing about not eating too many sweets, although this never seemed to extend to alcohol.
- And he had a thing about not looking directly at her.
—— is one thing, —— is another
make a (big) thing of (or about)
- • informal Make (something) seem more important than it actually is: Meadows made a big thing of paying the billMore example sentences
- And, of course, my friends across the aisle have made a big thing about that.
- I think they are probably looking for something to make a thing about.
- The news is making a big thing of it because he's gay.
of all things
- Out of all conceivable possibilities (used to express surprise): What had he been thinking about? A kitten, of all things!More example sentences
- The bizarre thing about the unsavoury incident was that the irate individual was himself, of all things, a referee.
- He went to London University for a degree in, of all things, theology.
- I drove, of all things, an Alfa diesel, and it was a glorious experience.
(just) one of those things
- • informal Used to indicate that one wishes to pass over an unfortunate experience by regarding it as unavoidable or to be accepted: I didn’t manage to go on the tour of Australia, but that was just one of those thingsMore example sentences
- It is just one of those things you have to accept.
- Unfortunately, is hasn't and it's just one of those things.
- If cycling is one way to sort out York's traffic problems, how come the frequent theft of bikes is brushed off as one of those things?
one thing leads to another
- Used to suggest that the exact sequence of events is too obvious to need recounting: he offered me a lift home one night and one thing led to anotherMore example sentences
- And one thing leads to another and then pretty soon, both people are in this violent dilemma.
- Anyway it's also fun to see how one thing leads to another.
- But one thing leads to another, as smokers, dieters and alcoholics all know only too well.
there is only one thing for it
- There is only one possible course of action: there was only one thing for it—she would have to open the parcelMore example sentences
- There's only one thing for it: I'll have to buy it another.
- There was only one thing for it: throw them out of the window.
- Following acupuncture, hypnotherapy and support groups, there's only one thing for it: therapy.
(now) there's a thing
- • informal Used as an expression of surprise.More example sentences
- Now, there's a thing: ‘a persistent irritating critic; a nuisance.’
- ‘Well, there's a thing,’ she said to no one in particular.
- Now there's a thing: nice to see that no matter what happens, politicians still stay the same.
a thing of the past
- A thing that no longer happens or exists: house-price booms were seen as a thing of the pastMore example sentences
- The guide suggests that Britain is now a truly united kingdom with the north-south divide a thing of the past.
- The habit of walking children to school is mostly a thing of the past.
- But for one group of tots, such light-hearted activity could be a thing of the past.
a thing or two
- • informal Used to refer to useful information that can be imparted or learned: Teddy taught me a thing or two about wineMore example sentences
- My brother taught me a thing or two, the rest I learnt from magazines and tapes.
- It is rich in culture and scenery and could teach us Irish a thing or two about how we care for our environment.
- Our children may only be starting out on life's learning curve, but they could teach us a thing or two.
things that go bump in the night
- • informal , • humorous Unexplained and frightening noises at night, regarded as being caused by ghosts: the fear of long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the nightMore example sentences
- As a youngster I had a dreadful fear of ghost stories and things that go bump in the night.
- Meanwhile, professional ghost-finders are set to launch a three-day festival in York dedicated to the things that go bump in the night.
- You are thinking about things that go bump in the night and monsters under your bed and vampires peering at you through your window.
Old English, of Germanic origin; related to German Ding. Early senses included 'meeting' and 'matter, concern' as well as 'inanimate object'.