The other day I was wondering how to describe exactly what the word “thing” meant. Recently, we have been using the phrases “It is just one thing after another,” or “If it is not one thing, it is another,” to describe our lives. As I search for another paying gig I have been using my personal favorite,“What is the next best thing?”

I went to my handy wikitionary website and found what I was looking for. I backed up my research with information from Merriam-Webster online.  As usual, the English language has multiple definitions for a string of letters we pronounce as a word. No wonder non-English native speakers question our spoken meaning.

Thing noun

1. a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.

2. some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described: The stick had a brass thing on it.

3. anything that is or may become an object of thought: things of the spirit.

4. things, matters; affairs: Things are going well now.

5. a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.


From Middle English, from Old English þing (thing), from Proto-Germanic *þingan; compare German Ding, Danish and Norwegian ting. The word originally meant “assembly”, then came to mean a specific issue discussed at such an assembly, and ultimately came to mean most broadly “an object”. Compare the Latin res, also meaning legal matter. Modern use to refer to a Germanic assembly is likely influenced by cognates (from the same Proto-Germanic root) like Old Norse þing (thing), Swedish ting, and Old High German ding with this meaning.

What is your thing…………..

©2012 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

About Lily

Born in Topeka, Kansas in the middle of the 20th Century, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, reader, spiritual, writer, cook, crafter, junker...... twice-married, former non-profit executive in retread mode... currently living a bucket list life in a remodeled schoolhouse.....
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