- 1 [countable] an object whose name you do not use because you do not need to or want to, or because you do not know it Can you pass me that thing over there? She's very fond of sweet things (= sweet foods). He's just bought one of those exercise things. Turn that thing off while I'm talking to you!
- 2 [countable] an object that is not alive in the way that people and plants are Don't treat her like that—she's a person, not a thing! He's good at making things with his hands. She took no interest in the people and things around her. possessions/equipment
- 3 things [plural] (rather informal) objects, clothing or tools that belong to somebody or are used for a particular purpose Shall I help you pack your things? Bring your swimming things with you. I'll just clear away the breakfast things. Put your things (= coat, etc.) on and let's go. anything
- 4a thing [singular] used with negatives to mean ‘anything’ in order to emphasize what you are saying I haven't got a thing to wear! She hasn't had a thing to eat all day. There wasn't a thing we could do to help. Ignore what he said—it doesn't mean a thing. fact/event/situation/action
- 5 [countable] a fact, an event, a situation or an action; what somebody says or thinks There are a lot of things she doesn't know about me. There's another thing I'd like to ask you. A terrible thing happened last night. He found the whole thing (= the situation) very boring. I've got loads of things to do today. The main thing to remember is to switch off the burglar alarm. I like camping, climbing and that sort of thing. She said the first thing that came into her head. ‘Why did you tell her our secret?’ ‘I did no such thing!’ Let's forget the whole thing (= everything). Vocabulary BuildingOther words for thingInstead of using the word thing, try to use more precise and interesting words, especially in formal written English. aspectThat was the most puzzling aspect of the situation. (…the most puzzling thing about…) attributeCuriosity is an essential attribute for a journalist. (…an essential thing for a journalist to have.) characteristicThis bird has several interesting characteristics. (There are several interesting things about this bird.) detailI want to know every detail of what happened. (…everything about…) featureNoise is a familiar feature of city life. (…a familiar thing in city life.) issueShe has campaigned on many controversial issues. (…many controversial things.) matterWe have several important matters to deal with at this meeting. (…several important things…) pointThat’s a very interesting point you made. (…a very interesting thing you said.) subjectThe book covers a number of subjects. (…a number of things.) topicWe discussed a wide range of topics. (…a wide range of things.) traitHer generosity is one of her most attractive traits. (…one of the most attractive things about her.) Don’t use thing after an adjective when the adjective can be used on its own:Having your own computer is very useful. Having your own computer is a very useful thing. It is often more natural to use words like something, anything, etc. instead of thing:I have something important to tell you. I have an important thing to tell you. Do you want anything else? Do you want any other thing? It is more natural to say a lot, a great deal, much, etc. rather than many things:I have so much to tell you. I have so many things to tell you. She knows a lot about basketball. She knows many things about basketball.
- 6 things [plural] (rather informal) the general situation, as it affects somebody Things haven't gone entirely to plan. (informal) Hi, Jane!How are things? Think things over before you decide. As things stand at present, he seems certain to win. All things considered (= considering all the difficulties or problems), she's done very well. Why do you make things so difficult for yourself? Synonymssituationcircumstances position conditions things the case state of affairsThese are all words for the conditions and facts that are connected with and affect the way things are.situation all the things that are happening at a particular time and in a particular place:the present economic situationcircumstances the facts that are connected with and affect a situation, an event or an action; the conditions of a person’s life, especially the money they have:The ship sank in mysterious circumstances.position the situation that somebody is in, especially when it affects what they can and cannot do:She felt she was in a position of power.conditions the circumstances in which people live, work or do things; the physical situation that affects how something happens:We were forced to work outside in freezing conditions.circumstances or conditions?Circumstances refers to somebody’s financial situation; conditions are things such as the quality and amount of food or shelter they have. The circumstances that affect an event are the facts surrounding it; the conditions that affect it are usually physical ones, such as the weather.things (rather informal) the general situation, as it affects somebody:Hi, Jane! How are things? Think things over before you decide.the case the true situation:If that is the case (= if the situation described is true), we need more staff.state of affairs a situation:How did this unhappy state of affairs come about?situation or state of affairs? State of affairs is mostly used with this. It is also used with adjectives describing how good or bad a situation is, such as happy, sorry, shocking, sad and unhappy, as well as those relating to time, such as present and current. Situation is much more frequent and is used in a wider variety of contexts.Patterns in (a) particular situation/circumstances/position/state of affairs the/somebody’s economic/financial/social situation/circumstances/position/conditions (a/an) happy/unhappy situation/circumstances/position/state of affairs to look at/review the situation/circumstances/conditions/things what is needed/right
- 7 [countable, usually singular] what is needed or socially acceptable You need something to cheer you up—I know just the thing! to say the right/wrong thing The best thing to do is to apologize. things of particular type
- 8things [plural] (formal) (followed by an adjective) all that can be described in a particular way She loves all things Japanese. creature
- 9[countable] (used with an adjective) a living creature All living things are composed of cells. person/animal
- 10[countable] (with an adjective) (informal) used to talk to or about a person or an animal, to show how you feel about them You silly thing! You must be starving, you poor things. The cat's very ill, poor old thing. Word Origin Old English, of Germanic origin; related to German Ding. Early senses included ‘meeting’ and ‘matter, concern’ as well as ‘inanimate object’.Extra examples Abby is just the sweetest little thing! Advertising on blogs is going to be the next big thing. All other things being equal, the bigger fighter should win. All things considered, I think we’ve done a good job. Among other things, I have to deal with mail and keep the accounts. Apologizing is never the easiest thing to do. As things stand at present, he seems certain to win. Books may one day become a thing of the past. Calling a doctor seemed the logical thing to do. Clear your painting things away. Clear your painting things= materials away. Come on kids, get your things together—we’re going. Don’t worry about it—just let things take their course. Entertaining people is the most natural thing in the world for her. Fame and fortune don’t mean a thing if you don’t have happiness. Hang on a second—I’ll just take off my painting things. He apologized, and asked for a chance to put things right. He asked me how things were going. He did the decent thing and resigned. He did the right thing and went back to his wife. He hadn’t washed up the dinner things yet. He has a funny way of doing things. He loses his temper at the slightest thing. He makes things out of wood. He offered to help, but she assured him she had things in hand. He’s the nearest thing to a film star I’ve ever met. Her apology only served to make things worse. His new film seems like a sure thing= a certain success. I admit it was a foolish thing to do. I can’t see a thing without my glasses. I did all the right things but I couldn’t get the engine to start. I did my usual thing of losing my keys. I give thanks for every little thing. I have loads of things to do today. I have to work things out my own way. I haven’t eaten a thing all day. I just don’t know if things are going to work out. I managed to get on the train, but it was a close thing= I almost missed it. I managed to get on the train, but it was a close-run thing. I marched into his office to get a few things straight. I need to buy a few basic things like bread and milk. I want to get things sorted out before I go away. I wanted to be a musician, but teaching music is the next best thing. I’m going to arrive early because I don’t want to miss a thing. I’m sure things will turn out OK. I’ve better things to do than stand here chatting all day! Iced tea—the very thing! If she works hard she’s capable of great things. It might speed things up if you call them. It’s a good thing you remembered to turn off the gas! It’s impossible to get things done when you’re looking after a baby. It’s just a practice, not the real thing. It’s no bad thing to express your anger. It’s not the done thing to ask someone how much they earn. It’s such a small thing to ask. Jack knows a thing or two about kids—he has five. Let’s forget the whole thing. Nobody said a thing when he appeared with a wig on. One thing led to another and we ended up dating. People defraud their companies every day, but Mike would never do such a thing! She always manages to say the wrong thing. She helped with the everyday things like shopping and cooking. She’d started the term studying hard, but now was beginning to let things slip. She’s taken a few days off to think things over. She’s tricked you, and you can’t do a thing about it. Sorry, I didn’t mean to complicate things. That was a horrible thing to say to her. That wasn’t a very smart thing to do! The amazing thing is, he wouldn’t accept any money! The baby’s a pretty little thing. The best thing about Alan is he’s always honest. The best thing would be to apologize straight away. The key thing is to remain calm. The last thing she wanted was to upset her parents. The pay cut was just a taste of things to come. There are plenty of things to say about it. There are some weird things going on in that house. There was a week to go to the deadline and things were looking good. There’s no such thing as ghosts. There’s nobody at the door—you must have been imagining things! They go canoeing, climbing, that sort of thing. They hired temporary staff to keep things going over the summer. They patched things up a week after their quarrel. Things came to a head when money was found to be missing from the account. Things looked bleak for the future of the factory. Too much studying can be a bad thing. Try not to let things get to you. Try to look at things from my point of view. Try to look on your rejection as a positive thing. We arranged to meet and talk things over. We chatted about school, but I could tell she had other things on her mind. We were in trouble but now things are looking up. What’s the next thing you want me to do? Who’s been saying things about me? Who’s going to look after things while you’re away? You must be starving, you poor thing! You should suggest changes, rather than accept things as they are. ‘Why did you tell her our secret?’ ‘I did no such thing!’ Don’t treat her like that—she’s a person, not a thing! He found the whole thing very boring. He ran down the hill, screaming like a wild thing. He’s good at making things with his hands. He’s just bought one of those exercise things. I like camping, climbing and that sort of thing. It’s a good thing we got here early. She’s very fond of sweet things. The cat’s very ill, poor old thing! The main thing to remember is to switch off the burglar alarm. There are a lot of things you don’t know about me. There’s another thing I’d like to ask you. Turn that thing off while I’m talking to you! We didn’t want the press to get hold of the story, but it might be no bad thing.Idioms if the conditions stay the same; if other conditions are the same All things being equal, we should finish the job tomorrow. (informal) used when you do not want to complete a list She likes nice clothes and things like that. I've been busy shopping and things. as was shown or proved by later events I didn't need my umbrella, as it turned out (= because it didn't rain).
- 1(of people) to please everyone by changing your attitudes or opinions to suit different people
- 2(of things) to be understood or used in different ways by different people
- 1not considered socially acceptable It wouldn't be quite the thing to turn up in running gear.
- 2(old-fashioned) not healthy or normal
B is very different from A, for example it is more difficult, serious or important Romance is one thing, marriage is quite another. It's one thing to tease your sister, but it's another to hit her. it isn’t something that you really enjoy or are interested in (informal) it is something that only a particular group understands You wouldn't know what it means—it's a girl thing.
(informal) to know/tell somebody some useful, interesting or surprising information about somebody/something She's been married five times, so she knows a thing or two about men! (informal) to make something seem more important than it really is a situation in which you are successful, but which could also have ended badly Phew! That was a near thing! It could have been a disaster. We won in the end but it was a near thing. to know nothing at all about something/somebody We’ve lived next to him for years, but we still don’t know the first thing about him.