a. An object or entity that is not or cannot be named specifically: What is this thing for?
b. An individual object, especially an inanimate object: There wasn't a thing in sight.
c. A creature: That baby is the sweetest thing!
d. An entity or item: How many things are there on the test?
e. Something referred to by a word, symbol, sign, or idea; a referent.
2. A possession or item in one's control, as:
a. things Articles of clothing: Put on your things and let's go.
b. things Possessions, including clothing; belongings: Pack your things; it's time to go.
c. often things Law That which can be possessed or owned: things personal; things real.
d. things The equipment needed for an activity or a special purpose.
a. An act, deed, or work: promised to do great things.
b. The result of work or activity: is always building things.
c. A means to an end: just the thing to increase sales.
a. A thought, notion, or utterance: What a rotten thing to say!
b. A piece of information: wouldn't tell me a thing about the project.
5. An end or objective: In blackjack, the thing is to get nearest to 21 without going over.
a. A matter of concern: many things on my mind.
b. A turn of events; a circumstance: The accident was a terrible thing.
c. A particular state of affairs; a situation: Let's deal with this thing promptly.
d. things The general state of affairs; conditions: "Beneath the smooth surface of things, something was wrong" (Tom Wicker).
e. Informal The latest fad or fashion: Drag racing was the thing then.
7. Informal A persistent feeling, interest, desire, or aversion: She has a thing for him and keeps talking about him. I have a thing about seafood and never eat it.
8. Slang An activity uniquely suitable and satisfying to one: Let him do his own thing. Mountain climbing is really my thing.
9. Informal Used to refer to something with disapproval or contempt: Where did you get that thing? I wouldn't drive that thing if you paid me.
first thing Informal
Right away; before anything else: Do your assignments first thing in the morning.
To have hallucinations.
[Middle English, from Old English.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.