Meaning of THING in English


Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.


You can use ~ to refer to any object, feature, or event when you cannot, need not, or do not want to refer to it more precisely.

‘What’s that ~ in the middle of the fountain?’—‘Some kind of statue, I guess.’...

She was in the middle of clearing the breakfast ~s...

If you could change one ~ about yourself, what would it be?...

A strange ~ happened...

N-COUNT: usu with supp


Thing is used in lists and descriptions to give examples or to increase the range of what you are referring to.

These are genetic disorders that only affect males normally. They are ~s like muscular dystrophy and haemophilia...

The Earth is made mainly of iron and silicon and ~s like that...

N-COUNT: usu pl, usu with supp


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 ~ instead of it’s different.

To be a parent is a terribly difficult ~...

N-COUNT: adj N


Thing is often used instead of the pronouns ‘any~,’ or ‘every~’ in order to emphasize what you are saying.

It isn’t going to solve a single ~...

Don’t you worry about a ~...

N-SING: oft with brd-neg emphasis


Thing is used in expressions such as such a ~ or ~s like that, especially in negative statements, in order to emphasize the bad or difficult situation you are referring back to.

I don’t believe he would tell Leo such a ~...

N-COUNT: usu with brd-neg, with supp emphasis


You can use ~ 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)

I’m a bit unsettled tonight. This war ~’s upsetting me...

N-COUNT: supp N, usu n N vagueness


You often use ~ to indicate to the person you are addressing that you are about to mention some~ important, or some~ that you particularly want them to know.

One ~ I am sure of was that she was scared...

The funny ~ is that the rest of us have known that for years...

N-COUNT: with supp, oft adj N


Thing is often used to refer back to some~ 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 ~ I ever thought desirable...



A ~ is a physical object that is considered as having no life of its own.

It’s not a ~, Beauchamp. It’s a human being!



Thing is used to refer to some~, especially a physical object, when you want to express contempt or anger towards it. (SPOKEN)

Turn that ~ off!

N-COUNT disapproval


You can call a person or an animal a particular ~ when you want to mention a particular quality that they have and express your feelings towards them, usually affectionate feelings. (INFORMAL)

You really are quite a clever little ~...

N-COUNT: adj N


Your ~s are your clothes or possessions.

Sara told him to take all his ~s and not to return...

N-PLURAL: poss N


Things can refer to the situation or life in general and the way it is changing or affecting you.

Everyone agrees ~s are getting better...



If you say that some~ is the ~, you mean that it is fashionable or popular.

I feel under pressure to go out and get drunk because it’s the ~ to do...

N-SING: the N, oft N to-inf


If, for example, you do the right ~ or do the decent ~ in a situation, you do some~ which is considered correct or socially acceptable in that situation.

People want to do the right ~ and buy ‘green’...

Carrington did the honourable ~ and resigned...

PHRASE: V inflects


If you say that some~ is the done ~, you mean it is the most socially acceptable way to behave. (BRIT)

It was not the done ~. In those days the man was supposed to be the provider.

PHRASE: oft with brd-neg, v-link PHR


If you do some~ first ~, you do it at the beginning of the day, before you do any~ else. If you do it last ~, you do it at the end of the day, before you go to bed or go to sleep.

I’ll go see her, first ~...

I always do it last ~ on a Saturday...

PHRASE: PHR after v, PHR with cl, oft PHR prep


If you have a ~ about someone or some~, you have very strong feelings about them. (INFORMAL)

I had always had a ~ about red hair...

He’s got this ~ about ties.

PHRASE: V inflects, PHR n/-ing


You say it is a good ~ to do some~ to introduce a piece of advice or a comment on a situation or activity.

Can you tell me whether it is a good ~ to prune an apple tree?...



If you make a ~ of some~ or make a ~ about it, you talk about it or do it in an exaggerated way, so that it seems much more important than it really is. (INFORMAL)

Gossips made a big ~ about him going on shopping trips with her...

PHRASE: V inflects, PHR n/-ing


You can say that the first of two ideas, actions, or situations is one ~ 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.

It was one ~ to talk about leaving; it was another to physically walk out the door...

PHRASE: V inflects, oft it PHR to-inf emphasis


You can say for one ~ 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.

She was a monster. For one ~, she really enjoyed cruelty...

PHRASE: PHR with cl


You can use the expression ‘one ~ and another’ to suggest that there are several reasons for some~ or several items on a list, but you are not going to explain or mention them all. (SPOKEN)

What with one ~ and another, it was fairly late in the day when we returned to Shrewsbury...

PHRASE: oft with PHR


If you say it is just one of those ~s you mean that you cannot explain some~ because it seems to happen by chance.

‘I wonder why.’ Mr. Dambar shrugged. ‘It must be just one of those ~s, I guess.’

PHRASE: V inflects


You say one ~ led to another when you are explaining how some~ happened, but you do not really want to give the details or you think people will be able to imagine the details.

He came by on Saturday to see if she was lonely. One ~ led to another and he stayed the night.

PHRASE: V inflects


If you do your own ~, you live, act, or behave in the way you want to, without paying attention to convention or depending on other people. (INFORMAL)

We accept the right of all men and women to do their own ~, however bizarre...

PHRASE: V inflects


If some~ is a ~ of the past, it no longer exists or happens, or is being replaced by some~ new.

Painful typhoid injections are a ~ of the past, thanks to the introduction of an oral vaccine...

PHRASE: v-link PHR, PHR after v


If you say that someone is seeing or hearing ~s, you mean that they believe they are seeing or hearing some~ that is not really there.

Dr Payne led Lana back into the examination room and told her she was seeing ~s...

PHRASE: V inflects, usu cont


You can say there is no such ~ as some~ to emphasize that it does not exist or is not possible.

There really is no such ~ as a totally risk-free industry...

PHRASE: usu v-link PHR, oft PHR as n emphasis


You say the ~ is to introduce an explanation, comment, or opinion, that relates to some~ that has just been said. The ~ is is often used to identify a problem relating to what has just been said. (SPOKEN)

‘What does your market research consist of?’—‘Well, the ~ is, it depends on our target age group.’...



If you say that some~ is just the ~ or is the very ~, you are emphasizing that it is exactly what is wanted or needed.

Kiwi fruit are just the ~ for a healthy snack...

PHRASE: usu v-link PHR, oft PHR for n, PHR to-inf emphasis


If you say that a person knows a ~ or two about some~ or could teach someone a ~ or two about it, you mean that they know a lot about it or are good at it.

Patricia Hewitt knows a ~ or two about how to be well-organised...

The peace movement has learnt a ~ or two from Vietnam.

PHRASE: PHR after v, oft PHR about n


other ~s being equal: see equal

first ~s first: see first

the real ~: see real

the shape of ~s to come: see shape

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