thing ( things plural )
1 n-count You can use thing to refer to any object, feature, or event when you cannot, need not, or do not want to refer to it more precisely.
usu with supp
`What's that thing in the middle of the fountain?'<emdash10001`Some kind of statue, I guess.'..., She was in the middle of clearing the breakfast things..., If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?..., A strange thing happened...
2 n-count Thing is used in lists and descriptions to give examples or to increase the range of what you are referring to.
usu pl, usu with supp
These are genetic disorders that only affect males normally. They are things like muscular dystrophy and haemophilia..., The Earth is made mainly of iron and silicon and things like that...
3 n-count Thing is often used after an adjective, where it would also be possible just to use the adjective. For example, you can say it's a different thing instead of it's different.
To be a parent is a terribly difficult thing...
4 n-sing Thing is often used instead of the pronouns `anything,' or `everything' in order to emphasize what you are saying.
oft with brd-neg (emphasis)
It isn't going to solve a single thing..., Don't you worry about a thing...
5 n-count Thing is used in expressions such as such a thing or things like that, especially in negative statements, in order to emphasize the bad or difficult situation you are referring back to.
usu with brd-neg, with supp (emphasis)
I don't believe he would tell Leo such a thing...
6 n-count You can use thing to refer in a vague way to a situation, activity, or idea, especially when you want to suggest that it is not very important.
INFORMAL supp N, usu n N (vagueness)
I'm a bit unsettled tonight. This war thing's upsetting me...
7 n-count You often use thing to indicate to the person you are addressing that you are about to mention something important, or something that you particularly want them to know.
with supp, oft adj N
One thing I am sure of was that she was scared..., The funny thing is that the rest of us have known that for years...
8 n-count Thing is often used to refer back to something that has just been mentioned, either to emphasize it or to give more information about it.
I never wanted to be normal. It was not a thing I ever thought desirable...
9 n-count A thing is a physical object that is considered as having no life of its own.
It's not a thing, Beauchamp. It's a human being!
10 n-count Thing is used to refer to something, especially a physical object, when you want to express contempt or anger towards it.
SPOKEN, disapproval Turn that thing off!
11 n-count You can call a person or an animal a particular thing when you want to mention a particular quality that they have and express your feelings towards them, usually affectionate feelings.
INFORMAL adj N
You really are quite a clever little thing...
12 n-plural Your things are your clothes or possessions.
Sara told him to take all his things and not to return...
13 n-plural Things can refer to the situation or life in general and the way it is changing or affecting you.
Everyone agrees things are getting better...
14 n-sing If you say that something is the thing, you mean that it is fashionable or popular.
the N, oft N to-inf
I feel under pressure to go out and get drunk because it's the thing to do...
15 If, for example, you do the right thing or do the decent thing in a situation, you do something which is considered correct or socially acceptable in that situation.
do the decent/democratic/right/wrong/honourable thing phrase V inflects
People want to do the right thing and buy `green'..., Carrington did the honourable thing and resigned...
16 If you say that something is the done thing, you mean it is the most socially acceptable way to behave.
the done thing phrase oft with brd-neg, v-link PHR
It was not the done thing. In those days the man was supposed to be the provider.
17 If you do something first thing, you do it at the beginning of the day, before you do anything else. If you do it last thing, you do it at the end of the day, before you go to bed or go to sleep.
first/last thing phrase PHR after v, PHR with cl, oft PHR prep
I'll go see her, first thing..., I always do it last thing on a Saturday...
18 If you have a thing about someone or something, you have very strong feelings about them.
have a thing about phrase V inflects, PHR n/-ing
I had always had a thing about red hair..., He's got this thing about ties.
19 You say it is a good thing to do something to introduce a piece of advice or a comment on a situation or activity.
it is a good/bad thing to phrase PHR inf
Can you tell me whether it is a good thing to prune an apple tree?...
20 If you make a thing of something or make a thing about it, you talk about it or do it in an exaggerated way, so that it seems much more important than it really is.
make a thing about/out of phrase V inflects, PHR n/-ing
Gossips made a big thing about him going on shopping trips with her...
21 You can say that the first of two ideas, actions, or situations is one thing when you want to contrast it with a second idea, action, or situation and emphasize that the second one is much more difficult, important, or extreme.
be one thing phrase V inflects, oft it PHR to-inf (emphasis)
It was one thing to talk about leaving; it was another to physically walk out the door...
22 You can say for one thing when you are explaining a statement or answering a question, to suggest that you are not giving the whole explanation or answer, and that there are other points that you could add to it.
for one thing phrase PHR with cl
She was a monster. For one thing, she really enjoyed cruelty...
23 You can use the expression `one thing and another' to suggest that there are several reasons for something or several items on a list, but you are not going to explain or mention them all.
one thing and another phrase oft with PHR
What with one thing and another, it was fairly late in the day when we returned to Shrewsbury...
24 If you say it is just one of those things you mean that you cannot explain something because it seems to happen by chance.
it is just/simply one of those things phrase V inflects
`I wonder why.' Mr. Dambar shrugged. `It must be just one of those things, I guess.'
25 You say one thing led to another when you are explaining how something happened, but you do not really want to give the details or you think people will be able to imagine the details.
one thing led to another phrase V inflects
He came by on Saturday to see if she was lonely. One thing led to another and he stayed the night.
26 If you do your own thing, you live, act, or behave in the way you want to, without paying attention to convention or depending on other people.
do your own thing phrase V inflects
We accept the right of all men and women to do their own thing, however bizarre...
27 If something is a thing of the past, it no longer exists or happens, or is being replaced by something new.
a thing of the past phrase v-link PHR, PHR after v
Painful typhoid injections are a thing of the past, thanks to the introduction of an oral vaccine...
28 If you say that someone is seeing or hearing things, you mean that they believe they are seeing or hearing something that is not really there.
seeing/hearing things phrase V inflects, usu cont
Dr Payne led Lana back into the examination room and told her she was seeing things...
29 You can say there is no such thingas something to emphasize that it does not exist or is not possible.
no such thing phrase usu v-link PHR, oft PHR as n (emphasis)
There really is no such thing as a totally risk-free industry...
30 You say the thing is to introduce an explanation, comment, or opinion, that relates to something that has just been said. The thing is is often used to identify a problem relating to what has just been said.
the thing is phrase PHR cl
`What does your market research consist of?'<emdash>`Well, the thing is, it depends on our target age group.'...
31 If you say that something is just the thing or is the very thing, you are emphasizing that it is exactly what is wanted or needed.
just the thing/the very thing phrase usu v-link PHR, oft PHR for n, PHR to-inf (emphasis)
Kiwi fruit are just the thing for a healthy snack...
32 If you say that a person knows a thing or two about something or could teach someone a thing or two about it, you mean that they know a lot about it or are good at it.
a thing or two phrase PHR after v, oft PHR about n
Patricia Hewitt knows a thing or two about how to be well-organised..., The peace movement has learnt a thing or two from Vietnam.
other things being equal
first things first
the real thing
the shape of things to come