Definition of thing in English:



  • 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 buy’
    • ‘He just wasn't into material things, but he did like to drink and get laid.’
    • ‘I did that thing that lots of blokes do when presented with a thing that has instructions.’
    • ‘My suitcase contains many things but one thing you can be sure of is that I've probably not got enough pants.’
    • ‘If you look at photos from way back, when you were a kid, the fashions date the thing.’
    • ‘We went out to find some dinner and of course the only thing open was the chippie.’
    • ‘Quite simply, the thing won't work without the base scanning the skies for missiles.’
    • ‘Get an idea of prices by going to lots of shops that carry the kind of thing that interests you.’
    • ‘Helen has the material things many would envy, but she is desperately trying to break free.’
    • ‘If you had all the money you could wish for, name three things you would purchase.’
    • ‘If this thing goes out again, it'll cost as much to repair it as it will to replace it.’
    • ‘Margalo looked them up and down for the thing she had required both of them to bring.’
    • ‘All in the name of testing new materials for things like planes and spacecraft.’
    • ‘The pink thing beside her is her G-string which she took out and decided not to wear back.’
    • ‘Yefu took only a few necessary things with him, including a cup, a mobile phone, and bedding.’
    • ‘Didn't I say last night I would go to Croydon to spend a small fortune on things for my living room.’
    • ‘Lia wished the thing he had given her would just vibrate; a feeling of unease rested in the pit of her stomach.’
    • ‘Everyone is opting for the thing that sells the easiest and requires the least amount of work.’
    • ‘I put this thing on and looked in the mirror and it was like I had turned into a cartoon.’
    object, article, item, artefact, commodity
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Personal belongings or clothing.
      ‘she began to unpack her things’
      belongings, possessions, stuff, property, worldly goods, goods, personal effects, effects, paraphernalia, impedimenta, bits and pieces, bits and bobs
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Equipment, utensils, or other objects used for a particular purpose.
      ‘they cleared away the lunch things’
      equipment, apparatus, gear, kit, tackle, stuff
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3[with negative]Anything (used for emphasis)
      ‘she couldn't find a thing to wear’
      • ‘They know exactly what they're doing and in that respect I don't have a thing to worry about.’
      • ‘They were absolutely not worried about a thing until I put on a robe and then Stellan screamed the house down.’
      • ‘I'll let them know what you have planned for us tonight, so don't worry about a thing.’
      • ‘We can't have anything like that, we've never done a thing like this before.’
      • ‘She felt as if she could just get lost in his eyes forever and not ever have a thing to worry about.’
      • ‘He could pick and choose as he pleased and he wouldn't have to worry about a single damn thing.’
    4. 1.4Used to express one's disapproval of or contempt for something.
      ‘you won't find me smoking those filthy things’
    5. 1.5[with postpositive adjective]All that can be described in the specified way.
      ‘his love for all things English’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He seems to have developed a penchant for all things good, wholesome and American.’
    6. 1.6Used euphemistically to refer to a man's penis.
  • 2An inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being.

    ‘I'm not a thing, not a work of art to be cherished’
    1. 2.1[with adjective]A living creature or plant.
      ‘the sea is the primal source of all living things on earth’
      • ‘It is our sense of interconnection with all living things that brings us to respect the rights of animals.’
      • ‘Clearly all living things need to consume in order to stay alive, and humans are no exception.’
      • ‘We scooped up margarine tubs full of pond water and saw a host of living things in our little container.’
      • ‘Nothing grew on its land, and no living thing was reared in its sheds and barns.’
      • ‘My family raised me to believe that not only humans but all living beings and natural things deserve respect.’
      • ‘Lead is toxic to every living thing and adversely affects every system in the body.’
      • ‘This consideration must surely tell us that all living things were not made for man.’
      • ‘Property should only be destroyed if no living thing is going to be hurt.’
      • ‘Living things search for their own fuel, and at times have to regulate their own temperatures.’
      • ‘The creation story in Genesis established an account for the origin of living things.’
      • ‘The trees protected by this bill are among the oldest, tallest, and largest living things on earth.’
      • ‘I know that I will continue to be amazed and absorbed by the mystery of living things.’
      • ‘It sets out to establish an equilibrium in the use of carbon, the material of living things.’
      • ‘Now, obviously, the presence of living things on Earth runs counter to this rule.’
      • ‘Fossils are relics of living things that tell us something about the past.’
      • ‘It must take a heartless person to even be able to carry out experiments on any living thing.’
      • ‘DNA is the common thread that links every living thing with a single primeval ancestor.’
      • ‘There isn't a living thing which doesn't alter its natural environment in some way.’
      • ‘Any living thing which brought life and movement to stir the sullen stillness of it all would be silenced.’
      • ‘I want you to save the righteous people and two of every kind of living thing on the earth.’
    2. 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’
      person, soul, creature, wretch
      View synonyms
  • 3An action, event, thought, or utterance.

    ‘she said the first thing that came into her head’
    ‘the only thing I could do well was cook’
    • ‘Born of all the distress of that situation came the one thing that I was truly unprepared for.’
    • ‘Yes, he had to go and in going he did the last honourable thing open to him.’
    • ‘Get out of the armchair, do things you enjoy and things you think will make a difference.’
    • ‘They are convinced they did the right thing in reporting the activities of the two youths.’
    • ‘On the way back the worst thing possible that could happen in a car happened.’
    • ‘Say what you will, but I believe the majority of people would do the same thing in our situation.’
    • ‘Blowing the whistle on any illegal or unethical activities is the right thing to do.’
    • ‘The use of any part of any creature for this type of thing is quite unacceptable.’
    • ‘The only thing enterprises could do was mass produce, regardless of market feedback.’
    • ‘At the awards ceremony, the pair said they would do the same thing again if the situation arose.’
    • ‘The most important thing management can do is to stay in touch with the people who do the real work in the company.’
    • ‘If there is one thing referee Michael Jones doesn't do, it's play to the crowd.’
    • ‘I don't enjoy shopping but wandering a mall with Wendy and Mark can be a fun thing.’
    • ‘This sort of thing happened quite often when Nathaniel was given a shock.’
    • ‘He said it was very difficult not being able to work and doing the same thing day after day.’
    • ‘One minute a team is going great, then a couple of putts go in or stay out and the whole thing switches round the other way.’
    • ‘You should thus try to convince your husband that such a thing is not socially acceptable.’
    • ‘The British Championships are now half way through and so far have been quite a close run thing.’
    • ‘The frigid old crone who taught us made copulation seem like the most boring thing possible.’
    • ‘There is one girl in my class who constantly says funny things which I wish I could remember later.’
    remark, statement, comment, utterance, observation, declaration, pronouncement
    incident, episode, event, happening, occurrence, eventuality, phenomenon
    thought, notion, idea, concept, conception
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    1. 3.1Circumstances or matters that are unspecified.
      ‘things haven't gone entirely to plan’
      ‘how are things with you?’
      • ‘That is to say, he used it as an example of how bad things can get if we don't act soon enough.’
      • ‘I now realise that all is not lost, no matter how bad things get, all is never lost.’
      • ‘We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently.’
      • ‘It was doubtful, she knew, but nevertheless, she wished things had not ended the way they did.’
      • ‘Not for one instant, no matter how tough things got, would I have quit a fight.’
      • ‘The other alternative is to sit on the sidelines and wish that things were different.’
      • ‘The child also perceives that things are going well living with his grandmother.’
      • ‘There are times when I wish things were different, if only because the people deserve better.’
      • ‘The good thing about gallows humour is no matter how bad things get you can always find some wag ready to crack a joke.’
      • ‘It seems like the lesson here is to let things slide, no matter how painful things get.’
      • ‘Challenge your beliefs about the bad things that might happen if you show your emotions.’
      • ‘Even now, two years on, Smith struggles to describe exactly why things went so wrong.’
      • ‘I remember we complained to one another at the time and thought how we wish things could change.’
      • ‘You hear a lot of longtime residents lament that they wish things were the way they used to be.’
      • ‘The kiss of love is the kiss of life and no matter how badly things have been going, it's the kiss that heals.’
      • ‘Many people no longer believe in our capacity to control events and change things for the better.’
      • ‘But it's hard to tell this close to the event exactly how things are going to change.’
      • ‘We can try and come up with ways of making things better, no matter how tough that may be.’
      • ‘No matter how bad things get, you must never think that God does not exist.’
      • ‘I told Jacques to press this with all his might and not back down, no matter how dire things looked.’
      matters, affairs, circumstances, conditions, relations
      View synonyms
    2. 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 action’
      • ‘This is not the sort of thing where we require the law to protect us from ourselves.’
      • ‘Yes, quality is the only thing that matters when we are talking about export education.’
      • ‘The only thing we had in common was that we were both appalled and shamed by the Waynes of this world.’
      • ‘The limits of our knowledge is one of the things that fascinates me most.’
      • ‘We could easily end up in a situation where the only thing left is, in a sense, the shadow of a monarchy.’
      • ‘Accept there's no such thing as the perfect partner but you can get pretty close.’
      • ‘The one thing patients want out of the inquiry is for lessons to be learned.’
      • ‘The only thing they have in common are the double rather than single quotation marks around them.’
      • ‘As I walked through the cold steel passageways, every room I entered had the same thing in common.’
      • ‘We realised how our hobby was the thing we had in common and the most important part of that was sharing.’
      • ‘It is not at all necessary, though, that such a concept or such a thing exist.’
      • ‘The question of his virtue is of course quite another thing altogether.’
      • ‘Of course, this is the type of thing that the media would be all over if it were a Republican.’
      • ‘A concept that has too many clothes may in the end be the same thing as a concept that has none.’
      • ‘What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality.’
      • ‘In any case, if there is one thing Italians do not naturally embrace it is change.’
      • ‘He admits he has always tended to obsess over things, these obsessions being mostly musical.’
      • ‘There seemed to be no such thing as third time lucky for the Sliding Rock mine.’
      • ‘To pretend otherwise is not only an insult to those efforts but it also implies there is no such thing as social change.’
      • ‘If there's one thing life so far has taught me, it's that you can't hide from reality.’
      characteristic, quality, attribute, property, trait, feature, point, aspect, facet, element
      fact, piece of information, point, detail, particular, factor
      View synonyms
    3. 3.3An example or type of something.
      ‘the game is the latest thing in family fun’
      • ‘The young girl appeared oblivious to what he was up to; Martin guessed she did this sort of thing quite often.’
      • ‘The bottom line is society hasn't opened up much to accept this kind of thing.’
      • ‘There was a time when really this thing was not taken as seriously as it should have been.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are the kind of thing that lead us to react in ways which are far graver than the damage they do.’
    4. 3.4informal [with adjective or noun modifier]A situation or activity of a specified type or quality.
      ‘your being here is just a friendship thing, OK?’
      • ‘In the early days, punk was a Northern thing, and more specifically, a Manchester thing.’
      • ‘The older son thing requires its own space, so the telling will be separate, if it happens.’
      • ‘But there was almost a reluctance to do sculpture, because it was such a family thing.’
      • ‘It has always been a family thing—we used to drive out in a bike and side-car when our two sons were small.’
      • ‘You can see the genuine affection there and it's not a showbiz couple thing.’
      • ‘I'm doing the premiere party thing tonight, so will have something to say about it tomorrow.’
      • ‘She was afraid because this modeling thing was a new situation so removed from her reality.’
      • ‘Subman, who has a few years on me, went on and did the family thing, put on a few kilos, and gave up surfing.’
      matters, affairs, circumstances, conditions, relations
      View synonyms
    5. 3.5informal A romantic or sexual relationship.
      ‘Phil and Lisa had been having a thing’
      • ‘He and Jack finally have a thing going on and then he dies.’
      • ‘Trevor had a thing with her sister and got her pregnant, so there's a big backstory there.’
      • ‘Husband had a thing with the babysitter, who then moves in with husband and child.’
      • ‘Asked about the rumoured relationship in an interview, she insisted: We've never had a thing.’
      • ‘Rob's been having problems with his girlfriend and it's being said that the problem is because Rob and Kayleigh might be having a thing.’
      • ‘Julian had a thing with Shelby and Candace had a thing with an anonymous stranger.’
      • ‘OMG I didn't know he and Kirsten had a thing.’
      • ‘Danny loves Taylor, and Kylie has a thing with Sam.’
    6. 3.6informal An established or genuine phenomenon or practice (typically used in expressions registering surprise or incredulity)
      ‘according to media reports, sleep texting is now a thing among serious smartphone addicts’
      ‘he looks like he's wearing boxers underneath his trunks (is that a thing?)’
      • ‘Is it a thing now to throw Barbie dolls on stage during a concert?’
      • ‘If Heather's reading, we have a feeling her goal was hipster biker chic, but please know that is not now and will never be a thing.’
      • ‘Winter white may work in November, but winter egg-shell blue is definitely not a thing.’
      • ‘Georgio, I can tell how old you are, because the kids today probably don't know that candy cigarettes were ever a thing.’
      • ‘Add some pizazz to your pregnancy by body-painting your baby bump (seriously, this is a thing).’
      • ‘Miller's sporting a string of very fashionable Fair Isle sweaters, so is that a thing now?’
      • ‘Kind of sad that having a glucose-measuring device for your kids is a thing now, worthy of a feature.’
      • ‘He cries some more, since that is a thing this season.’
      • ‘I'm not sure if anyone was trading butter for dessert, but bartering at restaurants is a thing.’
      • ‘Here are the 10 Dos and Don'ts of Facebook-stalking your crush, if that's still a thing now.’
  • 4informal What is needed or required.

    ‘you need a tonic—and here's just the thing’
    1. 4.1What is socially acceptable or fashionable.
      ‘it wouldn't be quite the thing to go to a royal garden party in wellies’
      • ‘At the newcomer level, sketch shows seem quite the thing.’
      • ‘Around the time of Michael and A Life Less Ordinary, angels were quite the thing.’
      • ‘Apparently it's quite the thing to drop out of society for months and take to the rivers and byways.’
      fashionable, in fashion, in vogue, popular, all the rage
      View synonyms
  • 5informal One's special interest or inclination.

    ‘reading isn't my thing’
    what one likes, what interests one
    View synonyms
  • 6informal Used to introduce or emphasize an important point.

    ‘the thing is, I am going to sell this house’
    ‘here's the thing: this is a story, not a piece of hard news’
    ‘that's the thing about style—no two people are completely alike’
    • ‘But the thing is, students will google while they write whether they're forbidden to or not.’
    • ‘But the thing is that players are remembered for their deeds on the pitch, not in the media.’
    • ‘And the thing is, I'm not sure that the broadcasters ever said what sin the question actually referred to.’
    • ‘But the thing is for all the DVDs in the world, what I really want is music - good music.’
    • ‘I know I've said that I like winter, and cold weather, but the thing is, I like it in winter!’
    • ‘It was almost 20 years ago, and the thing was, it was introducing a revolutionary product.’
    • ‘And the thing is, he is not even good looking, rich, or whatever criteria makes guys popular!’
    • ‘But the thing is, the rail network is not likely to make any more leaps and bounds if it keeps being shirky and apologetic.’
    • ‘Yes, but the thing is, though, he said he wants to plea bargain so he gets out of the death penalty.’
    • ‘And the thing is, just two days back I put through an insurance plan for myself.’
    • ‘Yes, but the thing is that we have got to start preventing some of these diseases.’
    • ‘You know, the thing was, Australia was really held to ransom there, as far as I'm concerned.’
    • ‘Well, the thing was that I was busy Saturday, tired out Sunday, and feeling apathetic Monday.’
    • ‘And the thing is, the things they're scared of are not the same things that we're scared of.’
    • ‘But the thing is, a website is not a therapy session, and I lost a little discipline there for a bit.’
    • ‘But the thing is, Prof Kaufmann has been through the old reports again recently.’
    • ‘‘But the thing was, of course, you got your revenge when it came to your turn,’ he says with relish.’
    • ‘As far as the Rove story, the thing is that Washington journalists are actually involved.’
    • ‘I hope not, but the thing is, I don't necessarily want to become a famous filmmaker.’
    • ‘And the thing is, China is trying to make Japan fess up to its brutal crimes of history.’
    fact of the matter, fact, point, issue, problem
    View synonyms


  • be all things to all men (or people)

    • 1Please 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 people’
      • ‘I'd like to just say that politicians would like 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.’
      • ‘I believe that you cannot, at all times, try to be all things to all people.’
      • ‘The ABC can never be all things to all people, but it can be the means by which different Australians talk to each other.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And it may require the reallocation of some of our resources, and we're going to have to understand that we can't be all things to all people.’
      • ‘The government can't be all things to all people.’
      • ‘The Liberals want to be all things to all people.’
      • ‘We do have an obligation, but we can't be all things to all people.’
      1. 1.1Be able to be interpreted or used differently by different people.
        ‘multimedia is all things to all men’
        • ‘The time is past for newspapers to be all things to all people.’
        • ‘We decided to make the flower show element excellent rather than trying to be all things to all people.’
        • ‘You may not be able to be all things to all people, but when it comes to dairy packaging, the industry is sure trying.’
        • ‘‘Radio 1 tries to be all things to all people in terms of the music that it covers,’ Bryce argues.’
        • ‘A local paper cannot be all things to all people but what it can aim for is to have something to interest a range of people from different walks of life.’
        • ‘‘You're asking a piece of wood to be all things to all people,’ he says.’
        • ‘These products would still use all the cool underlying Mozilla technology, but no longer would they try to be all things to all people, all at once.’
        • ‘Like all plans, it works for some and not for others - no plan can be all things to all people.’
        • ‘It is trying to be all things to all people, while selling upmarket food.’
        • ‘Unix doesn't have to be all things to all people to be a great system; I don't understand why its fans can't accept that.’
  • 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 thing’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Those masters were on to a good thing, for a while.’
      • ‘He has plenty to chew on, but that is not necessarily a bad thing: should it all fall into place, he could well be on to a good thing.’
      • ‘So I feel that not enough is being done to persuade people to give up because the government know that they're on to a good thing with the tobacco trade.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘For his part, Mr Cowdery is convinced he is on to a good thing.’
      • ‘It doesn't take long before people catch on to a good thing.’
      • ‘The duo knew they were on to a good thing when they first previewed at the Edinburgh Festival in 2002 to packed audiences.’
      • ‘He said: ‘If you are on to a good thing you stick with it.’’
      • ‘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.’
  • 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 things’
      • ‘I convinced myself that I was seeing things and kept walking.’
      • ‘She is hearing things, imagining them, she knows she is.’
      • ‘I stared at her and wondered if I was seeing things.’
      • ‘He blinked and then refocused, convinced he was seeing things.’
      • ‘At first I thought I was hearing things or maybe it was crows or seagulls.’
      • ‘Approaching the bridge, we thought we were seeing things!’
      • ‘Mark shook his head once again, as if he were seeing things.’
      • ‘She thought she was seeing things until another bolt of lightening lit up the room.’
      • ‘At first Melissa had always said Leah was seeing things, now she knew Leah was telling the truth.’
      • ‘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.’
  • a close (or near) thing

    • A narrow avoidance of something unpleasant.

      ‘we got him out, but it was a close thing’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Franks had had a near thing after the Field of Blood, but Tyre and Azaz had somewhat redressed the balance.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He managed to put out a hand to the wall just in time, but it was a near thing.’
      • ‘It was a close thing, but he managed to miss the vein by a hair.’
      • ‘It was a near thing this time.’
      • ‘That was a close thing and even more dramatic than the story as told here on Saturday.’
  • 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 thing’
      • ‘People began to think about doing their own thing.’
      • ‘It's always welcome to find a band that are not following the crowd and really doing their own thing.’
      • ‘‘It was that teenage thing of doing your own thing as a student,’ Diana recalls.’
      • ‘It's just a case of going out there and doing your own thing.’
      • ‘However, there are too many individuals doing their own thing.’
      • ‘Though we did walk together as a group, everyone was virtually doing their own thing.’
      • ‘It's just that everybody's doing their own thing.’
      • ‘We were always independent, doing our own thing.’
      • ‘That is what you have to create at a club, not 15 individuals doing their own thing.’
      • ‘The only way forward is for us all to work together; we can't have sport on one side and everyone else doing their own thing.’
  • do the —— thing

    • informal Engage in the kind of behaviour typically associated with someone or something.

      ‘a film in which he does the bad-guy thing’
      • ‘While we're doing the media thing, might as well be time for a roundup.’
      • ‘He is just doing the no drinking thing to keep me happy.’
      • ‘I don't do the tests thing very often these days.’
      • ‘Oh I'm definitely gonna do the sneakers thing, we're all doing it.’
      • ‘I don't do the whole meeting-the-parents thing.’
      • ‘Can we do the whole presentations thing tomorrow?’
      • ‘He noticed she was a carrying a book or two and decided to do the gentlemen thing.’
      • ‘I resisted the temptation to do the charades thing that indicates it's a book.’
      • ‘He got the crowd doing the waving arms thing.’
      • ‘We watched a game, had a few beers, did the lads thing, and generally I had a ball.’
  • do things to

    • informal Have a powerful emotional effect on.

      ‘it just does things to me when we kiss’
      • ‘Maybe it's this country that does things to us.’
      • ‘Unforunately, the bravado of temporary office sometimes does things to people.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It's an amazing thing to raise a child - it does things to you.’
  • 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 warmer’
      • ‘It's got him onto the health pages of the Telegraph, for one thing.’
      • ‘Well, for one thing, writing a shocking story has been, historically, one way to bring yourself to public attention.’
      • ‘Well, for one thing, there's a self-defence issue here which may justify the use of lethal force by the police officer.’
      • ‘He flags his surprise endings far too far in advance, for one thing.’
      • ‘Well, for one thing, the cast of characters apparently has spread out all over the country.’
      • ‘Not that I was inclined to go round: for one thing, I had no idea what to say.’
      • ‘One cannot lament its influence, for one thing because to do so would be useless.’
      • ‘It's far too noisy, for one thing, plus we're all phenomenally busy, a fact that should delight upper management.’
      • ‘I think he wants to see how people are raising money in his wife's name, for one thing.’
      • ‘Class, for one thing, appears to have changed radically while the Queen remains.’
  • have a thing about

    • informal Have a strong liking for or dislike of.

      ‘she had a thing about men who wore glasses’
      ‘I've always had a thing about mirrors—I can't have one near my bed’
      • ‘I've always had a thing about travelling light.’
      • ‘She's lovely although she has a thing about climbing.’
      • ‘‘Men have a thing about high heels,’ said sex shop manager Justin Parr.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He had a thing about redheads and he liked singers.’
      • ‘Macdonald has a thing about beaches; she can't say why, she just likes them.’
      • ‘Some people have a thing about their thighs, stomach or numerous chins.’
      • ‘For a brief period during my childhood I had a thing about boxing.’
      • ‘And he had a thing about not looking directly at her.’
      • ‘I have a thing about sumptuously comfortable beds.’
      phobia, fear, horror, terror
      penchant 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
      View synonyms
  • have a thing for

    • informal Have a strong liking for.

      ‘I think he has a bit of a thing for you’
      • ‘She apparently had a thing for smart guys.’
      • ‘He has a thing for annoying me though.’
      • ‘When we last left our heroes, Rachel had just found out that Ross has long had a thing for her.’
      • ‘I think he has a bit of a thing for you.’
      • ‘He's talk, dark and handsome and has a thing for British beauties.’
      • ‘She's the young hotshot of the woman's tennis circuit and she seems to have a thing for Peter.’
      • ‘She and I have a thing for the movies and never miss the opening night of anything.’
      • ‘People will think I really do have a thing for meteorites.’
      • ‘Dana had a thing for chocolate - or candy in general.’
      • ‘He was a little miffed at Trevor's comment about him having a thing for Susie.’
      phobia, fear, horror, terror
      penchant 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
      View synonyms
  • —— is one thing, —— is another

    • Used to indicate that the second item mentioned is much more important than the first, and cannot be compared to it.

      ‘physical attraction was one thing, love was quite 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 bill’
      • ‘The news is making a big thing of it because he's gay.’
      • ‘My mother did not make a big thing of it, but it was impossible to ignore.’
      • ‘I think they are probably looking for something to make a thing about.’
      • ‘And, of course, my friends across the aisle have made a big thing about that.’
      • ‘Should I just let it slide, or make a big thing of it?’
  • of all things

    • Out of all conceivable possibilities (used to express surprise)

      ‘What had he been thinking about? A kitten, of all things!’
      • ‘Our only used bookstore has gone, to be replaced by a pawnshop, of all things.’
      • ‘Well the government, of all things, has called for expressions of interest just recently.’
      • ‘He went to London University for a degree in, of all things, theology.’
      • ‘She was shocked that someone had been as cruel as to shoot the duck and, of all things, with a crossbow.’
      • ‘I sat back and watched as the two of them fought each other for a picture, of all things.’
      • ‘I drove, of all things, an Alfa diesel, and it was a glorious experience.’
      • ‘He spent a few years in England in industry making, of all things, vials for medicines.’
      • ‘They both studied, of all things, Portuguese literature and translation.’
      • ‘The company blamed its dismal performance on, of all things, Valentine's Day falling on a Friday.’
      • ‘The bizarre thing about the unsavoury incident was that the irate individual was himself, of all things, a referee.’
  • (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 things’
      • ‘‘What has happened is just one of those things and is not the club's fault but I am still very sad about it,’ said Hamilton.’
      • ‘He said: ‘There were no outward physical signs that the tree was rotten and going to come down, it was just one of those things.’’
      • ‘Unfortunately, is hasn't and it's just one of those things.’
      • ‘We were in the lead at the time, but it was one of those things.’
      • ‘‘It's just one of those things,’ said founder member Beatrice Brown.’
      • ‘‘It was nobody's fault what happened in Turkey, it was just one of those things,’ added Alan.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Sometimes I just chalk it down to one of those things and try and move on with my life.’
      • ‘If I have to move on and the money could be used to help the club relocate then it's one of those things.’
      • ‘It is just one of those things you have to accept.’
  • one thing after another

    • A series of problems or difficulties.

      ‘it's one thing after another with this kid’
      • ‘Every time I try to get my new blog working I hit another problem, it's just one thing after another.’
      • ‘"It's been one thing after another with that shed," Cameron said, "We've been trying for ages to see if somebody wants it. There was nothing we could do in the end."’
      • ‘I had been virtually injury free all season and then in the last few weeks I seem to have suffered one thing after another.’
      • ‘He worked hard as a farmer, but one thing after another worked against him and he never progressed very far.’
      • ‘Now, this year alone, the show has been plagued by one thing after another.’
      • ‘He said: "It's one thing after another at this club at the moment; I feel like I've been let down by the team and I can't understand why."’
      • ‘One thing after another crowded in upon me, demanding attention and pushing further down the list the things that really mattered.’
      • ‘Even as one thing after another goes wrong, he's still a lovable goof who loses his temper but never lets it get the best of him.’
      • ‘Our heroes undergo setbacks and minor triumphs, disasters and near-disasters, even scrapes with death - one thing after another.’
      • ‘It was just one thing after another after another, but we never felt like giving up.’
  • 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 another’
      • ‘And one thing leads to another and then pretty soon, both people are in this violent dilemma.’
      • ‘But one thing leads to another, as smokers, dieters and alcoholics all know only too well.’
      • ‘Anyway it's also fun to see how one thing leads to another.’
      • ‘And one thing leads to another and on and on it goes.’
      • ‘Like so many things in life, one thing leads to another.’
  • 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 parcel’
      • ‘There's only one thing for it if you're a student.’
      • ‘There's only one thing for it, thought the messenger.’
      • ‘Following acupuncture, hypnotherapy and support groups, there's only one thing for it: therapy.’
      • ‘There is only one thing for it: I will fast till tea time, and do sit-ups on the hour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If there's water blocking your way there's only one thing for it: you've got to swim.’
      • ‘And I definitely didn't want my Mom asking him anymore questions, so there was only one thing for it.’
      • ‘The dog-loving double act decided there was only one thing for it.’
      • ‘There was only one thing for it: a complete personality transplant.’
  • (now) there's a thing

    • informal Used as an expression of surprise.

      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Now there's a thing I'd not thought myself likely to be missing!’
      • ‘Now, there's a thing: ‘a persistent irritating critic; a nuisance.’’
      • ‘In my defence, I see the beautiful countryside every day, I am spoilt with green hills but real shops, now there's a thing I rarely get to see in this paradise.’
      • ‘‘Well,’ he murmured instead, gazing down at Brandark's relaxed face and listening to his even, sleeping breath, ‘now there's a thing!’’
  • a thing of the past

    • A thing that no longer happens or exists.

      ‘house-price booms were seen as 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.’
      • ‘Dressing up for a meeting with your accountant may soon be a thing of the past.’
      • ‘The guide suggests that Britain is now a truly united kingdom with the north-south divide a thing of the past.’
      • ‘Actually, in some parts of the world this is becoming 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 wine’
      • ‘Now that's where we could show those other countries a thing or two.’
      • ‘With adventures like these, you are going to have a great time and learn a thing or two.’
      • ‘He was older and had been with a few women older than himself who had taught him a thing or two.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My brother taught me a thing or two, the rest I learnt from magazines and tapes.’
      • ‘Perhaps the Wiltshire trusts could learn a thing or two from that!’
      • ‘However, having served 12 years in the Royal Navy, Richard knew a thing or two about spit and polish.’
      • ‘Katy was more than grateful to her mother for teaching her a thing or two about first aid.’
      • ‘As he grew up, though, he discovered a thing or two that made him change his mind.’
  • things that go bump in the night

    • humorous, informal 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 night’
      • ‘It was an active search for things that go bump in the night in the castle-filled countrysides of Scotland and Ireland.’
      • ‘Don't get neurotic about things that go bump in the night!’
      • ‘I have a fear of 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.’
      • ‘He makes great use of silence and subtle sounds to remind us that the only thing scarier to a child than hearing the things that go bump in the night is not hearing them.’
      • ‘‘Only things that go bump in the night,’ Alexander said.’
      • ‘You are thinking about things that go bump in the night and monsters under your bed and vampires peering at you through your window.’
      • ‘If you're not afraid of the dark or things that go bump in the night you will at least have the nerve to make it through the audition.’
      • ‘But what of the other things that go bump in the night?’
      • ‘As a youngster I had a dreadful fear of ghost stories and things that go bump in the night.’


Old English, of Germanic origin; related to German Ding. Early senses included ‘meeting’ and ‘matter, concern’ as well as ‘inanimate object’.