Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


For one thing Fred sha'n't get into that kind of muss if I can save him from it.

"He'd better improve his whiskers first thing he does," suggested Percival.

Strive and grope as he would, the thing had driven him on relentlessly.

It died just as the languages of most of our Indian tribes have become a thing of the past.

I know it's a thing you never dreamt of—marrying a poor man.

All the systems of writing of the ancient people of Asia had one thing in common.

The misfortune was that this was the only thing they cared to possess.

The first thing I am going to do is to catch some fish, if you'll lend me your boat.

They owed me every thing, like you—their gratitude was unbounded, even as yours.

My friend was, if any thing, kinder and more affectionate than ever.


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.


Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.