Meaning of “thing” in the English Dictionary

"thing" in British English

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thingnoun

uk /θɪŋ/ us /θɪŋ/

thing noun (OBJECT)

A1 [ C ] used to refer in an approximate way to an object or to avoid naming it:

What's that thing over there?
There are some nice things in the shops this summer.
I don't eat sweet things (= sweet food).
How does this stupid thing work?
things [ plural ]

More examples

A1 UK your possessions or a particular set of your possessions:

All their things were destroyed in the fire.
Bring your swimming things if the weather's nice.

a particular set of objects:

Let me help you clear away the tea things (= cups, plates, etc. that are used for having tea).

More examples

thing noun (IDEA/EVENT)

A2 [ C ] used to refer in an approximate way to an idea, subject, event, action, etc.:

That was an unkind thing to say.
I've got so many things to do I don't know where to start.
Your information is correct but you left out one thing.
"What's the matter?" "It's this insurance thing. I'm really worried about it."
the thing [ C ]

the exact fact, object, idea, event, etc.:

The article was exactly the thing I needed for my research.
the real thing

something that is not false or a copy:

The fire alarm goes off accidentally so often that when it's the real thing (= when it really does happen) nobody will take any notice.
the same thing

B1 the same:

Training isn't the same thing as education.
the whole thing

B2 everything that has been planned or discussed:

Let's call the whole thing off.
I want to forget the whole thing.
above all things

more than everything else:

I value my freedom above all things.
in all things

in every situation or subject; in everything:

Be true to yourself in all things.
if there's one thing I want to know, find out, etc.

said before describing what it is that you especially want to know:

If there's one thing I want to know, it's where he goes on Thursday afternoons.

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thing noun (SITUATION)

things B1 [ plural ]

used to refer to the general situation:

Things have been going very well recently.
it's a good thing

B2 If it's a good thing that something happened, it is lucky that it happened:

It's a good thing (that) we booked our tickets early.
the way things are also as things stand

in the present situation:

The way things are, I'll never have this ready by June.

thing noun (ANYTHING/EVERYTHING)

a thing B1 [ S ]

More examples

used instead of "anything" or "everything" to emphasize what you are saying:

Don't worry about a thing (= anything). I'll take care of it.
not a (single) thing

B2 not anything:

After the guests had gone, there wasn't a thing left to eat.
not have a thing to wear B1 also have nothing to wear humorous

to have no clothes that are suitable for an occasion:

I'm going to a wedding on Saturday and I don't have a thing to wear.
there isn't a thing you can do

you cannot do anything:

He broke his promise and there wasn't a thing we could do about it.

(Definition of “thing” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"thing" in American English

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thingnoun [ C ]

us /θɪŋ/

thing noun [ C ] (OBJECT)

a device, product, or part of nature that is not named:

There’s a new thing that seals plastic bags.
There are some nice things in the stores on sale right now.
your things

Your things are your small personal possessions:

Get your things together and we’ll leave.

thing noun [ C ] (ANY POSSIBILITY)

an event, thought, subject of discussion, or possibility:

A strange thing happened on my way to work today.
I have a few things to bring up at the next meeting.
Don’t worry about a thing – it’s all under control.

Things can refer to a situation in general:

Things have been going really well for us this year.

thing noun [ C ] (PERSON/ANIMAL)

a person or animal:

When did you eat last, you poor thing?
Note: This is used to refer to a person or animal affectionately or sympathetically.

Idiom(s)

(Definition of “thing” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)